Monday, February 20, 2017

Bridging Education Gaps

Education is the means to end, not the end itself. Education shouldn’t become another status quo or silo, or the end.

Education is one of the best things and great privileges for modern global citizens because it provides significant opportunities for people to build disciplines, learn some fundamental knowledge and train certain skills. In the static industrial age with information scarcity, education does help to train certain professionals for gaining some linear skills to do the job well. However, at today's fast-changing digital era with "VUCA" normality, formal education alone is not sufficient to build professional capabilities such as thinking, creativity or problem-solving. Therefore, it creates the INSIGHT and INNOVATION gap when we are moving to the deep digital reality with abundant information (but still with the scarce of insight). How can you capture the real signals from so much background noises? How can you keep updating knowledge to ensure both educators and receivers capturing the real insight and true wisdom with increasing speed of changes and shortened knowledge cycle? How can you not just absorb the existing knowledge, but co-create new knowledge for accelerating innovation and societal advancement? Or to put simply, how can you bridge education gaps for making the leap of digital transformation?

Critical thinking gap - the real critical thinking cannot be completely taught, it can only be developed: There are many debates about the role of education in critical thinking. The arguments include such as: Can critical thinking be educated in a better way? Which role does education really play in teaching critical thinking? Does individual truly have free choice to think critically? What could be the better way to groom critical thinkers? How to evaluate a real critical thinker in an objective way? Does critical thinking get encouraged or rewarded at school or workplace, or the opposite happens? How can trainers recognize the strengths and talents of those they are assisting in order to communicate concepts and disciplined approaches as clearly and lastingly as possible. Although there’s critical thinking evaluation at advanced education level, some argue that an individual who is taught to think critically is ‘programmed’ and their critical thinking is in fact determined by philosophies and methodologies which are ’chosen’ by educators or someone else. Further, the real critical thinking has creativity embedded in the thought processes, hence, it cannot be completely taught. Education can teach you some methodologies or mechanisms to help you think, but only individuals themselves can integrate the variety of thought processes and figure out how to capture insight and think critically, independently, and profoundly. Critical thinking cannot be defined as genetically inherited only or, can absolutely be taught; it's a way of thought process similar to the perceptions: all from the human brain, both nature and nurtured. It is a crucial thinking capability for decision-making or problem-solving.  

Creativity gap - creativity is an innate thought process to generate novel ideas: Education can instill certain knowledge, but creativity is both nature and nurtured. One of the things is essential for education in creativity to really thrive is that people understand that creativity is a way of being, being innovative is the state of mind; it must be practiced, it's very personal, it requires internal motivation and self-awareness; it also takes practice, practice, and practice more. Creativity is one of the most wanted professional qualities in the digital age, but creativity can not be taught completely.  The focus to tap the creative power is on how creativity is viewed, citing two views: One being innate and the other of teaching some mechanics. Without clarity, 'creativity' will only be known to mankind as serendipity, a fad or superficial set of steps in. Sometimes the outdated education methodologies even stifle the creative thinking and add a static little box to limit imagination and block the fountain of creativity. Creativity is not something you can learn as a topic, it is something you acquire and use, not just for learning, but for life itself, and, of course, to be creative you have to rely on freedom of thinking, failing, trying, experimenting, saying, learning, doing, etc. Creativity can be nurtured by encouraging and rewarding "creative thinking," in which people learn to solve all kind of problems, generate ideas, implement life changes.

Insight gap - we still live in the era in which information is abundant, but insight is still poor:
Traditional education can instill certain commodity knowledge or even preconceived concept to the receivers, but insight is personalized perception; insight is one's experience and exploration process, and introspection. Education can present you human history or scientific theories, but it can’t always help receivers become insightful. Insight is the ability to perceive clearly or deeply penetration. Insight is thinking into the box after thinking out of the box. Insight takes both creativity and reasoning, intuition and logic, the power of acute observation and deduction, questioning, connection, penetration, discernment. It is about penetrating and often sudden understanding, as of a complex situation or problem. The insight of situation requires in-depth understanding, it can not be taught completely, individuals need to practice multidimensional thinking plus capturing the lesson learned from their own unique experience or personal stories to convey the message clearly without “lost in translation” between thinking and communication. Hence, it is always important to be open-minded and inquisitive to challenge conventional wisdom to bridge insight gaps and move forward with digital advances.

Education provides the great value to the mass of receivers and our society for improving the bottom line of eliminating illiteracy and training certain skills, but being knowledgeable is just not enough in the digital era in which commoditized knowledge is only a click away. Education shouldn't become a constraint to limit one's imagination or the status quo to stifle changes, or our collective human progress, or brings the big ego or arrogant attitude, or too static to catch up with the internet speed. As the wise said, digital literacy is not about reading or writing or calculating or coding; it’s truly moving up to the next level, it is about enhancing learning agility, and how to master of the full learning cycle, to learn, relearn and gain true understanding, to become highly creative and highly insightful. Education is the means to end, not the end itself.


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