New Style Questions for a Promising Future

Author: Dolores

Instructional designer
 

Busy teenagers

Aquilah is a strong-willed and determined 16-year old girl. Her name is on the top of the school ranking list at most of the subjects, apart from maths. She is very unhappy with his 16th place, out of 300. She says: “I am desperate to be the best at maths, too. I work really hard to find out how I can perform better than that.”
 
Indeed, she shows me her diary. It is full of duties from dawn to dusk. To dusk? No. She goes to sleep at one a.m., so busy with studying. She is a girl, drilled to be the best. The competition is very high, the students’ eyes are constantly on each others’ achievements, keep comparing themselves.

Schools are about grades and ranking

I wonder whether she enjoys her lessons, activities, and life. Aquilah and her classmates spend their days at school with studying, then tuition and homework until midnight. They perceive that school is not about learning but ranking and grades. They say what teachers want to hear, not what they think. Aquilah complains that she often gets 2-3 hours of mindless homework task like copying texts. Most of the learning is about preparing for exams, cramming for academic knowledge.
 
Parents are just as eager as a student. They spend an awful lot of money on private tuition. They hope that with good education they can give a good start in life for their kids. Education has become a huge business.

Job market wants skilled graduates

However, a degree is not sufficient anymore to get a good job. The job market has also become competitive. There are more and more graduates and fewer job offers. The days of a stable career are gone. More and more companies offer temporary positions instead of hiring, or they outsource the tasks. Degrees are losing their values and companies increasingly use another layer of criteria to pick their employees. They expect success skills like effective communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. Formal education is necessary but not sufficient anymore.
 
There are even more reasons to shift expectations towards skills. Technology is rapidly changing, making existing occupations obsolete and calling for new ones. Our knowledge gets out-of-date overnight. Anyway, what is the point of storing knowledge in our brain that is available on hard discs or on the internet any time? Aquilah is cramming logarithms and functions. Graduates offer certificates. Companies want problem solvers. They expect agility and adaptability, to learn fast from experience and to be comfortable with novelties. Entrepreneurship and the ability for independent work are also important.

There is only one way to develop success skills

Success skills can be nurtured only with higher-order thinking questions. That’s why teachers at Learning Port put a lot of efforts to develop questions which help think out of the box, solving problems in unconventional ways. They are not difficult questions, rather tricky ones. Studies point out that even learning is more enjoyable when students try to find answers to HOTS questions. They are never boring, they have the right level of challenge to make learning interesting.