Reflections on Teachers Day:
The recent upheaval in the economic and employment landscape is evidence that a paradigm shift is taking place. The key observable is rapid change and the VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world taking shape. This presents an unprecedented challenge for teachers. It is no longer about teaching to pre-determined learning outcomes. John Holt has suggested that “ Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.” The key words are ‘ love learning and learn well’.
A person with School education from a prestigious high fees School with granite flooring in the classrooms and air-conditioned buses for going to and from School passed with high marks in CBSE and further coaching at a well advertised coaching Institutions and access to educational Apps promoted by film stars may feel that he is well equipped for the future. But as he tries to engage with the world, he realises that his education has not adequately prepared him either to learn more on his own or to bring any economic value for which he could be remunerated. There was no love for learning and no pursuit for excellence.
The World Economic Forum, the Brookings Institute, Oxford University and many consulting organisations in their reports have indicated that in the coming age of the confluence of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the 4th Education Revolution, there will be a disruption across most of the human activities. The recent economic slowdown in many parts of the world is a consequence of these changes.
The only way to see further is to stand upon the shoulders of giants ( as Newton had said, a long time back).
And the collective wisdom of these giants ( Ken Robinson, Guy Claxton, Clayton Christensen, Anthony Seldon, Eric Hanushek, Howard Gardiner, Conrad Wolfram, Jeanette Wing, Joseph E Aoun) has a simple prescription. The unequivocal advice of all thought leaders is to immediately start pursuing active learning, to develop learning power as the means of overcoming their miseries and sorrows. Learning is not a spectator sport, it is a participative activity free from ‘ taughtitis’.
This mantra of “Learning first, AI next “ should be pursued by everyone to add to their learning potential. The Economic value add by educators has been well researched by the Stanford Professor Eric Hanushek in his book ‘ The Knowledge Capital of Nations’. The Human Capital Index (HCI) database provides data at the country level for each of the components of the Human Capital Index as well as for the overall index, disaggregated by gender. The index measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18, given the risks of poor health and poor education that prevail in the country where she lives. It is designed to highlight how improvements in current health and education outcomes shape the productivity of the next generation of workers, assuming that children born today experience over the next 18 years the educational opportunities and health risks that children in this age range currently face.
The government has raised “serious reservations” over the first Human Capital Index (HCI) compiled by the World Bankas part of the WorldDevelopment Report 2019. Indiais ranked at 115 position in the index with its score of 0.44 on a scale of 0 to 1 coming even below the average score for South Asia. One way to substantially raise this score is the concept of “ The AI experience Hub”.
The AI experience Hub:
With the goal of every village being connected with optical fibre, it is feasible to have a whole new approach to raising the HCI from its present 0.44 to a significantly higher value. The spread of long distance education to which the Prime Minister referred in the recent Independence Day speech, has the potential that by the time a child attains the age of 18, it has evolved to the lifelong learner that John Holt referred to.
To enable this to happen, numerous AI experience hubs may be established with as wide a reach as possible, using Government projects, private entrepreneurial initiatives, NGO initiatives and CSR initiatives of large Corporates.
These AI experience hubs will have an inspirational ambience, fast Internet access and facilities for participating in remotely held webinars.
The infrastructure at each hub would be a suitable mix of consumer devices like Alexa, PCs that can run the required software, cloud services from Amazon, IBM, Google etc. Raspberry Pi with AIY voice kit, Intel Mobidius CNN stick, Amazon DeepLens and others that can help members to build projects that demonstrate AI abilities such as face recognition, Build a voice recogniser, Create a voice user interface, Control a LED,Attach a servo, Control a DC motor do fake news recognition and so on.
Members will be from the neighbourhood community ranging from School students to grown ups. As the purpose is to enhance curiosity as well as to make applications and perhaps sow the seeds of an AI start-up, there will be categories of memberships such as : Observer, Explorer, Creator, Developer and Entrepreneur.
Education and training to overcome ignorance of STEM and acquisition of new skills led by complex problem solving, cognitive flexibility, critical thinking and creative thinking for very large numbers over very short times is fundamental. Educators empowered with mobile phone technology of specific Apps and WhatsApp for learner cohort management will be the most powerful enabler for this. India could possibly become the world’s hub for educational Apps.
The reason why accomplished practicing educators are more important than the policy maker bureaucrats and fossilised experts in this situation is that while an expert can demonstrate his or her expertise, an inspiring technology empowered educator can transform every ignorant person to an expert by using techniques for successful learning.
These Stages of Learning are –
- Stage1: Unconscious Incompetence.
- Stage2: Conscious Incompetence.
- Stage3: Conscious Competence.
- Stage 4: Unconscious Competence.
- Stage5: Flow / Mastery.
I have labelled the way forward as Learning 321, to mean the right approach to education in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. The 3 digits 321 indicate that we are referring to the upcoming 10 years, and in these rapidly changing times a horizon of more than a decade is too long to foresee and anticipate. With the education conceptualised in Learning 321 which is the combination of the soul of an IIT education, the large amount of resources accessible through the Internet and the power of self-education, the otherwise dreaded VUCA ( volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world becomes transformed to a visible, unbounded, challenging and abundant world.
Learning 321: the 8-fold path:
1: Teachers have a deep learning mindset ( well versed in deep learning techniques of Machine learning as well as pedagogy of mastery learning and learning in depth)
2: Learners are heavily engaged in the learning process having mastered the techniques of learning to learn and to build ‘learning power’.
3: Instructional activities promote “high cognitive challenges” to build Complex Problem Solving Skills
4: Opportunities to apply learning to authentic situations.
5: Development of Mathematical and Computational Thinking
6: Following the adage of Francis Bacon that “Knowledge is Power”
7: Fluency in English language skills.
8: Blending of personalised and community learning.
Happy Teachers Day!
This is your decade. Educators will be the most important. They will be training AI empowered software and educating humans to transform them from uninformed persons to experts.
They are the engines of India’s acceleration to the 5 trillion dollar economy.