The main goal of this workshop was to identify some of the most pressing topics in the transformation of education systems within the EU, to make them fit for the digital society.
Present was, among others, Martina Dlabajova, MEP and vice president of ELF.
Some of her main points of argument were:
- Automation is affecting the labour market which does not necessarily mean mass unemployment, but rather radically different demands from employers that the workforce needs to be able to meet.
- When simple/monotone tasks are automated, higher demands will be placed on the workforces’ ability to handle “soft skill tasks”: emotionally and creatively demanding jobs etc.
- Change cannot be achieved from either political initiatives or grassroots’ movements alone, it needs to be done at all ends simultaneously.
One of the more complicated points that she made was about the difficulty of finding a common/uniting narrative. Addressing all areas of policy at the same time will be near impossible but if it’s not done that way, we risk losing momentum by wasting time trying to pass a message to multiple policymakers who all consider the question as “someone else’s”.
A key part of the solution, as pointed out by several of the participants, is teachers.
Teachers are traditionally the keepers of answers, and they lack the motivation to become mentors instead. This has multiple causes:
- “I should be teaching” – when do teachers have time to learn new models?
- “Teachers should teach” – the rest of society has an image of teachers as answerers, not mentors/leaders
- “Only a teacher is a teacher” – teachers are regarded members of society in many members states, but the latest knowledge of how society works is often to be found in private organisations, and having them teach our children is still something we are sceptical of.
Inviting more teaching initiatives from the private sector, finding ways to incite learning initiatives within schools and teachers unions’ and revising the list of demands we have for teachers are ways forward in updating the role of the teacher. All of the above of course require political leadership and/or insight, making the multilateral and holistic approach to policy changes key.