Education for the Information Age

Posted by Admin on February 03, 2016

By Shinichi Yamanaka
Senior Advisor, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan

At conferences and symposia these days, I often hear the word “unpredictable”. Of course, the future is not always predictable, but we live in an era of great transformation. One of the most important elements of this transformation is the information revolution. Information and communication technology (ICT) has changed how we relate to other people, as well as to machines. It has fundamentally transformed the way we work and learn.

Japan opened its doors to the outside world around 150 years ago, and has since then invested in the only resource it had: people. Education was and is the most critical factor for Japan’s development. During its industrial development, the most important factor in education was learning/acquiring knowledge that already existed.

Now that Japan has become a developed nation, the role of education has come to be not only the acquisition of existing knowledge, but also the creation of new knowledge based on existing knowledge. It is important now to educate our younger generation to attain skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication. During this great transformation, we need, above all, to cultivate a sense of self-confidence and competence based on acquired and invented knowledge and skills.

In the words of educator and author Cathy Davidson, “Learning is skill and will, an earned conviction that, faced with a challenge ahead, this past achievement will get one through.”

Figuring out how to transform school learning from the traditional paradigm of absorbing knowledge to a more innovative and creative one is a big challenge. We think introduction of “active learning” is indispensable for such a reform, in order to give students a chance to learn how to engage in society and in the world, and how to live a better life.

(The author is Senior Advisor, Ministry of Education,Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. These views are personal)