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Why GenZ And GenAlpha Need To Do School Differently

  • 5 min read

School is rooted in tradition, and all too often we, as parents, look to nurture our connection with our growing and increasingly independent children through them having a similar educational experience to us.  This might have worked for past generations.  However, the seismic changes in our world accelerated by relentless tech innovation over the recent decades have fundamentally disrupted this particular flow of tradition. 

It’s forced us back to basics where we acknowledge that the purpose of education is to prepare our children for their working and civic future, not to provide us with more sought-after parental touchpoints.  The world of work has fundamentally changed.  So much so that we are educating our children today for jobs that don’t yet exist, and they need to be educated in different ways. 

Mark Anderson, Principal of Koa Academy, a uniquely high-touch digital school, says, “Content memorisation, with the teacher as the sole content expert, is an outdated notion for our current young generations who live in a world where all content is just a click away.  Top marks should not just be given for memorising the facts.  Instead, being able to evaluate and think critically about an abundance of facts, and the sources of those facts, is one of the vital 21st Century skills.  It’s no longer relevant to remember a one right answer enshrined in one textbook; the next generations need to be able to access a world of information and apply it to real world problems, effectively communicating their ideas to others. ” 

For our GenZ and GenAlpha children, understanding how they learn has become more significant than what content they can retain in their memories.  The teacher has transformed from a content provider in front of the class to a learning expert able to coach the students at their side along their unique learning pathways.  The so-called ‘soft skills’ that nobody paid much attention to in a mechanistic, industrial past have now become the top information-age capabilities.  Those who know how to think critically, how to communicate, how to collaborate and how to innovate lead the way.  Literacy has expanded to include media, information, civic and technological literacies.  Qualities such as resilience, emotional intelligence and flexibility help our children win the day.  What this means is that as parents, we should be worried if our child’s educational environment today looks and seems a lot like the one that we experienced.

Your kids are – but are you ready for School 2.0?

Mark believes it is time for parents to find out more about School 2.0.  He says, “It’s really exciting that parents have more options than ever before when it comes to education. But we also know that it is harder than ever for parents to really understand the different options.  At Koa Academy, our advice is for parents to start by thinking through what you really want for your child. And, I don’t mean which schooling system. I mean, what do you value when it comes to your child’s education? Then, as you investigate the growing number of options, keep an eye out for the schools which are prioritising those same values.”

The Koa Academy education model prioritises individualised learning with children grouped in small 8-person pods working every day with a dedicated, specialist teacher who has not only mastered online pedagogy but understands the needs of each child in their Pod.  The platform is registered as a South African IEB curriculum provider leveraging educational resources from all around the world.  With the flexibility that only an online platform can provide, academic progress is mastery based enabling children to speed up or slow down as needed and for families to schedule timetables and terms in ways that suit them best. 

Mark says, “Our aim is to prepare children for the real world.  Learning is rooted in real-world issues; tasks give children options, and age-appropriate feedback is ongoing so that children can adapt and grow in dynamic ways as they learn.  In this way assessment is embedded in the learning process, and not a disconnected result that they can’t actually learn from.  Our passionate teachers are curating and facilitating content at the child’s pace. Each child progresses when they have mastered the learning which is the only real way to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Like everything else in life, traditional education has been disrupted over the past pandemic months.  Through months of stay-at-home restrictions, parents have had new and different insights into their child’s learning and their schooling system. As we look to a post-pandemic future, there’s more open thinking about what really works for our families, and what doesn’t.  Our GenZ and GenAlpha children face a future that is differently shaped from anything we have known.  If there’s a silver lining to the COVID clouds, it’s the idea that we can create a better reality for our families, community and country.  School 2.0 has become a serious option in how we choose to educate our children for a fast-evolving future that will make different demands on them.