The Evolution of Academic Innovation

The first schools in the modern world were established in the time of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to this time, parents and children spent time together in the fields. Once work moved to factories, parents had to leave for work, and someone needed to take care of their children. That lead to a dynamic shift in education – rather than just experiential learning in the field, students met in formal classrooms. There wasn’t an established curriculum yet so educators wondered what to teach these kids? What would these children do when they grew up? They determined that they would take the jobs of their parents in the factories and assembly lines, and therefore, they needed discipline, patience, literacy and basic math skills.

Since that time, the world has drastically changed, and today, we do not know what awaits current graduates. Nobody knows what future professions will look like, and robots will continue to replace humans in many fields. An example of this can be seen in the banking industry, where many employees have been replaced by applications and independent banking.

Knowledge, which was once unique to adults, and needed to be transmitted through them to students in a classroom, is now accessible to all at the swipe of a finger. It is common for students to correct teachers, as they have equal access to knowledge and information. We also understand that students have multiple intelligences, and what works for one child will not necessarily be appropriate for her friend in the classroom.

These understandings are universal in the field of education, and as a result, an ongoing conversation has begun about the need for changing our schools and adapting them to the 21st century. This discussion involves researchers, regulators, and practitioners in the field. The rationale is always identical: the knowledge revolution, rapid technological developments and the constantly changing workplace have all impacted our view of education and the skills we must provide to students so that they are well-prepared for the future. Other systems have changed and adapted – hospitals, the business community, public policy –  while the education system has remained the way it has been for centuries. How do we train tomorrow’s leaders for an ever-evolving and innovating world when many education models are stuck in the past? If the accessibility and attitudes toward knowledge have changed, and the world awaiting our students is now different, then the path to get them there must change as well. It is unreasonable to expect different results when we use the exact same methodologies.

In an attempt to meet the ever-changing needs and begin adapting the educational system to the needs of a new era, multiple and varied approaches to learning have been developed, including flipped classrooms, creative use of space, project-based learning, synchronized learning, experiential learning, design thinking and more.

At AMIT, the premier education network in Israel, we put a heavy emphasis on this. We’re responsible for educating the country’s future leaders. As a result, we’ve started the Gogya initiative, which attempts to provide a system-wide, comprehensive cultural change with the aim of impacting all elements of the school.

We focus on six key areas:

  • Identity and values
  • School culture
  • Content
  • Teaching methods
  • Alternative assessment
  • Environment and structure

This approach allows for teachers and students to work in a more comprehensive and interactive manner, creating a new framework and understanding of learning and teaching. My upcoming posts will focus on each of the components mentioned above, exploring them, understanding what stands behind them, and learning about their applications in the field through examples.

About the Author
Dr. Amnon Eldar is the Director General of AMIT. AMIT is the premier education network in Israel, serving 34,000 students each year in 110 schools in 29 cities throughout Israel. AMIT enables students to reach their fullest potential and become productive members of Israeli society with the skills necessary to build a successful future. For more information, please visit www.amitchildren.org.
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