Some thoughts shared at the GPSC 2021:
I am speaking this morning at an event, the Gurgaon Public Schools Virtual Annual Conference with the theme “Changing Landscapes – The Futuristic pathways for Education”. I have written this text ( about 5 minutes reading time) to supplement my oral remarks, as well as to reach out to those who are interested in the theme, but are not part of that event.
1: There is a delightful story about Albert Einstein. The story is that one year when he was teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, it was time to set examinations. When Einstein handed over the exam papers to his teaching assistant, the assistant noted that it was the same paper that Einstein had set for that class the year before. The assistant queried the master, “Isn’t this the same exam you gave this class last year?”. “Yes, yes it is.” replied Einstein. Emboldened, the assistant asked, “But how can you give the same exam to this class two years in a row?” “Becuase,” Einstein replied, “the answers have changed”.
2: The answers to the key questions in education have changed. What do we teach, when, where and by whom? How do we assess learning? Many of you appreciate the nuanced difference between assessment of learning, and assessment for learning. The NEP 2020 has also drawn attention to “ learning how to learn”? We are at the intersection of two big revolutions: the 4th Industrial Revolution ( Klaus Schwab 2016) and the 4th education revolution ( Anthony Seldon 2018) and as if that was not enough ….the pandemic became yet another disruptive force. And we have to deal with them coherently and concurrently.
3: The mobile phones will become the primary device to access learning, which may then include Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for more engaging content. UNESCO has been organising a mobile learning week event from the year 2011, with a focussed theme every year, and has adequately established its importance and usefulness. More information at: https://en.unesco.org/themes/ict-education/mobile-learning
Use of mobile apps and other mobile content will facilitate a shift from the erstwhile practice of limiting the subjects of study to a few to the exclusion of others to sampling a large number of subjects, as proposed in the NEP 2020 irrespective of the marks obtained in them. This helps in becoming a sui generis. And results in a well rounded education.
4: Focus must shift from prescribed learning outcomes to the process of ‘learning’ itself with the goal of becoming a lifelong self-directed learner.
In 1970 Alvin Toffler had said that the illiterates of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot ‘ learn, unlearn and relearn’. Building learning power as suggested by Guy Claxton ( https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg). Transition from ‘Revealed knowledge’ to discovered knowledge.
For example,the process of photosynthesis is commonly written as: 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2. This means that the reactants, six carbon dioxide molecules and six water molecules, are converted by light energy into a sugar molecule and six oxygen molecules. To appreciate that there is more to
photosynthesis than this equation, just try shining light on a carbonated soda drink and notice that it does not produce sugar and make it sweeter.
5: AInEd Supremacy: China achieved Quantum Supremacy recently, while Google had demonstrated it in October 2019. The phrase was coined by John Preskill of Caltech in 2012 to describe the moment in time, when a Quantum Computer would perform a calculation that no classical computer could do in a reasonable time. As AI applications are harnessed by both the teacher and the learner to enable personalised as well as mastery learning, the two elements, which Benjamin Bloom identified in 1984 as a solution to the 2 sigma problem. This is the point I label as AInEd Supremacy, where an AI fluent SmartEducator will outperform the best of traditional teachers. The AInEd supremacy will be achieved during this decade with the use of Chatbots, Face and emotion recognition, recommender systems, text to speech, speech to text and machine translation.
6: The trinity of competence, comprehension and cognitive flexibility must be nurtured as opposed to learning in silos. The sequence of competence and comprehension could be interchanged, depending upon the subject and competence. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to transfer knowledge and skills learnt in one context to another. We have seen in the past motivated typists becoming data entry operators and then with lifelong learning, evolve into a software professional. This has now become critical because of enhanced longevity and an increased working life, but with the half-lives of usefulness of skills continuously decreasing, the emergence of the Gig economy and working from home ( which is really a special case of working from anywhere) becoming the new norm.
7: While the State has implemented, the right to compulsory education, we as citizens may be inspired by The Fundamental Duties that were incorporated in 1976 through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. Article 51 (a)(h) states that: It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
In the absence of a scientific temper we are driven by intuitively strongly held but incorrect assumptions. The Scientic approach aligns the framework to the evidence. All science is tentative and must align theory to experimentally observed data. For example father Sir JJ Thompson got a Nobel Prize in Physics for proving that the electron is a particle , his son Sir GP Thompson got a Nobel prize for showing that the electron is a wave and Louis de Broglie got a Nobel Prize for showing it is neither particle nor wave or both particle and wave; wave-particle duality. And today’s Quantum Technologies that are transforming the world today, are based on this fundamental feature of matter.
We must strive to achieve a situation where most if not all learning is not thrust upon the learner but is ‘consensual’ in nature, driven by the learner’s curiosity and desire to learn.
They say ‘ it is better to light a candle, than just curse the darkness’. In my attempt at future readiness in an age of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Technologies, I have created a pool of several short courses and programmes that can be easily accessed with a mobile phone using WhatsApp.
There are several tracks to be ready for the 4th Industrial Age:
1: All need to be equipped with the success skills needed for the 21st Century. The World Economic Forum has listed the top 10 skills that would be in demand. I have also included ‘ First Principles’ and ‘Computational Thinking’ to form a pool of 12 weekend courses that can be readily pursued through WhatsApp. More information at: https://mmpant.com/ss321/
2: For educators, there are 2 sets of 4 weeklong courses. Every educator needs to be updated with the emerging challenges and opportunities to become a SmartEducator. More information at: https://mmpant.com/smarteducators/
Many educators, especially those who are from a Physics, Mathematics or Computer Science/IT background may aspire to progress to becoming an “ AI fluent SmartEducator”. More information at : https://mmpant.com/aifse/
3: Those who are at School, College or in higher education would benefit by keeping themselves abreast of recent developments. More information at : https://mmpant.com/asl/
4: The famous Psychologist, Karl Jung had drawn attention to the need for a “ School for the 2nd half of life”. I have created a set of 4 weeklong courses as an initial step in that direction. More information at : https://mmpant.com/msai/
5: Recent announcements are pointing out to Quantum Technologies being the next big thing. The Indian Government is also active in this field: https://www.expresscomputer.in/news/meity-to-establish-a-quantum-computing-applications-lab/71893/
Towards this, a track on Quantum Readiness is available. More information at : https://mmpant.com/qr/
6: For the occasional learner, who is not ready for a more concerted learning effort, there are a set of 8 one hour learning sessions that can be accessed through WhatsApp during evening, before, during or after dinner. More information at : https://mmpant.com/weet/
7: The future of learning is personalisation. There is a personal mentoring program for those who would like to be mentored/coached by Prof MM Pant. More information at : https://mmpant.com/mfr/
If you would want to know more about any of these, or wish to discuss any other matter regarding education and learning, especially with the future in mind, please feel free to send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724