UK Tech Leaders Warn MPs About “Knowledge Curriculum”

Palace of Westminster where the UK Parliament meets.

This week in the UK, tech company leaders warned the Members of Parliament who make up the House of Commons Select Education Committee about “knowledge curriculum” saying it will not prepare students for the world of work.

John Roberts at TES reports: 

One technology company boss told a hearing today that a knowledge-based approach meant pitting children against computers rather than preparing them with the skills they will need.

At the Commons Education Select Committee hearing, chairman Robert Halfon asked whether the curriculum was preparing pupils for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution“.

Brian Holliday, the managing director of Siemens Digital Factory, said: “My concern is that if we continue to pursue a knowledge-based approach to academia, we are setting our kids up increasingly to compete with computers – with devices we all use which are now 1,000 times more capable and more powerful than they were just 15 years ago.”

If you wonder what “knowledge-based” curriculum is, think of it regarding what kids “need to know” as opposed to a “skills-based” curriculum that focuses on what kids need to be able to do. 

I’m not against teaching skills, I think there are skills are essential, but you need to have a foundation of knowledge for those skills to be in context. The current trend in education reform is workforce development that focuses heavily on skills. The UK has the same debate that we are having in the U.S. Why emphasize on rote memorization when we can just “Google” information or use a calculator? 

Yes, it is true that there will be things we will not have to do for work soon because a computer, AI, or a machine will take that task over. This mindset being discussed in the halls of the UK Parliament this week, however, is a dangerous one. There is knowledge worth having even if we don’t utilize it in the world of work.