Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Digital Natives, Dropouts and Refugees: Educational Challenges for Innovative Cities

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Digital Natives, Dropouts and Refugees: Educational Challenges for Innovative Cities

Article excerpt

It is impossible to envision an innovative city without innovative people. To respond to the many challenges innovative cities will face, such cities must have citizens with a passion for discovery, and institutions ready to implement new ideas: but this is not enough. Innovative cities will also depend on education systems that are capable of producing people with open minds; who are willing and able to solve new problems and acquire new skills in contexts of continuing challenge and change. Citizens of innovative cities will need to acquire and exercise a complex combination of knowledges, skills and social capacities that were never expected of their parents or grandparents. In their study of US firms that were responding to the demands of global competition, economists Richard Murnane and Frank Levy found that these firms started looking for employees who, in addition to having substantial competencies in reading, mathematics and oral communication, were also able to 'solve semistructured problems, originate improvements ...(and) work in teams' (1996: 21). However challenging this may be for educators, their responsibilities will go beyond the preparation of multiskilled and flexible employees. Innovative cities will also need to establish and support schools in which young people learn and also practice new social capacities. These will include, for example, the ability to live and work harmoniously with fellow citizens whose languages, religions and cultures may be very different from their own.

In contrast with this vision, the current structure, culture, and curriculum of most secondary schools are not well adapted to meet these challenges. Curriculum options tend to divide 'academic' learning from 'vocational' training, deliver computing and information technology classes that are seriously out of date, and rely on linear, 'chalk and talk' methods of knowledge transfer. While much is being done by regions, states, and even local schools to alter the provision of education to young people, the overall leadership fashioning the policies of large school systems often appears to be stagnant, and caught in bureaucratic inertia. Many schools persist in privileging a curriculum that is geared to students who are university-bound and ignores or marginalizes those with different interests or learning needs. In addition, the structure of schooling often finds schools isolated from their communities, workplaces, and other educational institutions.

This article focuses on three of the most pressing issues facing educational systems as they attempt to respond to present and future challenges. Prior to discussing these challenges, the article provides a brief overview of the institutional structures and changes affecting Australian secondary education over the past sixty years.

The first challenge is the emergence of a digital divide between less adapted digital users known as 'digital immigrants' and the surprisingly different mind sets of children who have grown up as 'digital natives' (Prensky 2001). These 'digital natives' have been born into, and are familiar with, such a wide range of technologies that their approach to learning, knowledge acquisition and even social relationships, is vastly different from that of their parents and elders who are often their teachers. How are educational systems to be devised that will respond to these technological natives, yet also deliver knowledge, opportunity and experience that will equip students with the abilities to meet the challenges ahead of them?

The second challenge refers to the problems inherent in mass secondary education. The OECD identifies completing a full upper secondary education with a recognised qualification for work, tertiary study, or both as central to the social and economic well-being of individuals, communities and nations (OECD 2006). The challenge of ensuring that all students complete a high school qualification is exacerbated by the increasing diversity of the populations some schools are expected to serve. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.