People say the world has been changing a lot and there are different causes of the changes such as the 4th industrial revolution, AI, the metaverse, stem cells and autonomous vehicles. Futurists are predicting that we will be seeing a number of changes in education as well in the near future. General people have probably noticed that future education or future schools are being discussed more than before. It seems that they are admitting that the changing world cannot help changing the education because knowledge of the past will not be enough to adapt oneself to the future. Learning how to maintain the internal combustion engine will not get one prepared for the era of electric vehicles.
There is another reason why we need innovations in education other than to adapt to the changing world. It is to change the world. Modern education, which is well represented by Harvard University established in 1636, turned the previous education of apprentices into a more systematic one that enabled structural mass production. This Western education brought about rapid changes in the world, trying to answer the questions on this world. Questions like ‘why can’t humans fly?,’ ‘can’t we move faster without riding a horse?,’ and ‘can’t we talk with someone in a distance?’ have been solved by inventing electricity, engines, and means of communication. Those inventions have been known to people through education and that in turn, had the people work in factories, research centers and schools. The introduction of modern education system to the society contributed to enhancing productivity to the level that human beings had never witnessed before. Korea, though not a first mover, was quick to introduce this new education system and has achieved stunning growth. That is one of the major reasons for Korea’s success as a fast follower.
However, schools and such education system no longer are playing the roles of the past. The knowledge that professors are teaching at college was only taken important when they were studying for their doctoral degree, and it will probably be useless when their present students graduate from college. Nevertheless, college students are struggling to learn the “dead knowledge” to earn credits and pass exams. Many students even move to live near the college to learn from a few professors, paying tens of thousands of dollars for 4 years, but greater and much more useful content than what they learn from college can be found on the internet almost for free with only couple of clicks. Some people are becoming skeptical about the need to go to school only to obtain a raft of knowledge that are pouring out every day. Many organizations and companies today doubt college graduates’ knowledge and abilities for this reason.
Besides in knowledge-focused classes, present education system does not seem to be efficient or effective in arts and physical education as well. One or two music or P. E. teachers in charge of hundreds of students cannot give every student the opportunity to play or practice in class. Science classes, where every student should be given an opportunity to do one’s own experiment, are not much different. For classes on performances, collaborating with the students of other countries on a global theater will be more than helpful, but the students now have to be satisfied with having an orchestral performance at the school auditorium. Depending on limited resources of schools will not equip us for the future nor make us the leaders of the future.
To enhance Korea’s global competitiveness, we should no longer accept the education system of the advanced countries as it is, but create new areas in education, where Korea would be able to lead the world. It means education needs to change in order for us to become a first mover, not a fast follower.
For these reasons, future schools are being designed and run in many places. Among them are Minerva University for which I work as an advisor or the SM Institute (SMI) of which I am the CEO.
At Minerva, students from around the world work on projects in collaboration with organizations in 7 countries including the U.K., the U.S., and Korea. The students obtain factual information through books or online classes on their own, and have discussions and seminars with the professors online. Minerva is well known for that students can learn from different sources besides professors, that classes don’t have to be taken on specific places only and that one can enhance creativity interacting with students of various cultural backgrounds. Students are able to nurture practical capabilities required of future talents through the 4-year curriculum and get equipped to work in any areas after graduation. And such education is all provided by utilizing IT technology.
The SM Institute (SMI) that I am working on to establish, too, is planning to design new ways of education to provide students with customized education using adequate technologies. Classes on factual knowledge will be provided online so that students dreaming of becoming singers or actors/actresses, who need a lot of time to practice, do not have to give up school subjects. They can continue their study even when they are abroad for performances or training. Unlike traditional arts and physical classes where students have to sit in the classroom in person to learn basic knowledge or theories from teachers but have to practice on their own, students here learn from top field experts, having opportunities to stand on the shows. AI arts and physical teachers help them practice more effectively and efficiently. Metaverse provide students with the environment to stand on the shows in New York or in Beijing. Above all, Korea can establish a strong foundation to be a first mover in entertainment education by creating and exporting this new education system. I believe globalizing such education is a promising strategy to ensure the sustainability of the Korean wave.
Everyone says schools need to change, but present school education, though it has contributed to bringing great development to human life, is almost being regarded as a doctrine, something that is untouchable or hard to reform. I should admit that education is not something that we can make radical changes in. It is also true that valuing the speed of change might lead us to miss other important points. Yet for the future of our country and the younger generations who will be leading the future, it is time for us to make efforts to design a new education system and new schools, and to suggest new ways for the education to take. Like in other areas, the clock for future education will be ticking faster due to the corona virus that attacked the whole world.
Jinyoung Choi / Translated by Ok Eurom