How do we prepare our children for a world we hardly know anything about? The question is as puzzling as it is important and scary.

The education system is ripe for disruption. In 2015, then 16-year-old Mark O’Dowd won the Milan Expo prize for his breakthrough idea regarding how to increase the productivity of seeds. How? In no small part thanks to watching YouTube videos about the topic from the age of 12.

In the clip below, Carlo Moedas, EU’s Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, talks about Mark O’Dowd:

YouTube is not the answer per se. But YouTube and similar platforms are part of the solution, i.e. open knowledge and education.

At a recent dinner party with other school parents, the children’s YouTube and iPad usage was discussed. For fear of being frowned upon, I didn’t mention our very liberal policies.

Moments after someone asked if it’s true that we used to live in the US. They heard talk about it, and it was supposed to explain why our 7-year-old speaks English so well.

I replied: “No, but he does watch an awful lot of YouTube videos…”

So where is education heading? Is traditional learning disappearing?

Recently, I came across this video featuring Jack Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Alibaba:

I think you will agree that his points on education are interesting. And even surprising. More than anyone else I can think of, Jack Ma is the personification of China’s economic and technological boom the past 15 years.

When Ma speaks, the business world is listening.

This makes it all the more interesting that he insists that we need to radically change our knowledge based way of teaching and instead focus on the softer skills – and teach our children things like sports, music and painting.

Let me repeat… We need to teach them sports, music and painting. Says one the world’s leading businessmen. I think he’s right.

Technology, Artificial Intelligence, robots etc. will not threaten us. Instead, these things will support us, and enable us to do more interesting things. They will mean less work more leisure time. More boredom, possibly.

We need to use that time in a meaningful way.

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