Turning Learning Upside Down

1 Apr 2021 12:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Perceptions about elementary and secondary education are undergoing a sea change as the concept of lifelong learning takes hold in the twenty-first-century world of work.


Whether adults perceive it or not, infants learn from the moment they are born – and some evidence indicates that learning occurs even inside the womb. Babies and toddlers gather information long before they can share their knowledge with adults.

As children begin to talk, they express themselves haltingly at first but gradually add the vocabulary and syntax they need to be understood. Even before they reach kindergarten or first grade, kids become experts in a wide array of subjects. They know 1) how to get parents to give them treats; 2) one hundred ways to delay naptime; 3) the entire text of Goodnight Moon; and 4) the infinite loop of “The Song That Never Ends.”

Joking aside, serious thought is being given to children’s ability to absorb whatever is going on around them when something interests them sufficiently. Consequently, a growing number of educational researchers now believe that formal education should start later in life than it does today.

Research by the National Institute for Cognitive Excellence (NICE) indicates that K-12 education is less effective than allowing young people to learn in a free-range fashion. The institute posits that individuals should start working at 10 or 11, when their creativity and learning ability are at their peak. Entering the workforce early, young people will be well-prepared to continuously develop the new skills and competencies required to keep pace with exponential change.

NICE is striving to understand how students can best prepare for careers that will require frequent reskilling for new jobs.

“Life-long learning is the way forward for everyone in the workforce who hopes to thrive during the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says NICE Founder and CEO Dr. Hadley Knowmore. “We are not convinced that K through 12 education is the best way to prepare young people for the fast pace of change coming to the workplace. Giving youngsters time to develop on their own equips them with the curiosity and tenacity they will need to persevere through multi-stage careers. They will have a natural aptitude for the periodic upskilling and reskilling they will need to qualify for changing job roles.”


Knowmore added that children perform best when they understand the reason for learning a particular subject:

Fifth graders say they don’t care what time a fictitious train traveling west at 79 miles per hour will take to get to Kansas City if it leaves St. Louis at noon. My colleagues are coming to believe that formal learning can wait until young people gain work experience. Then, they will be ready for on-the-job training or advanced academic studies.

Maynard Gettawerk, a senior researcher for academic think tank Exploratory Learning Solutions, agrees:

Kids are expected to learn all sorts of things they’ll never need in the real world. We have it backward. The curiosity that young children naturally possess is stunted by the time they reach third or fourth grade. People can play until they’re 11, get a job and then learn things that will help them succeed in their careers, either through work-based training or formal education. This sequence makes more practical sense and produces happier people.

On the other hand, on this early April day in 2021, who are you going to believe?



About the Talent Transformation Guild

The Talent Transformation Guild provides resources for professionals that are preparing for upskilling being triggered by 4th industrial revolution and accelerated by Covid-19. Members include c-level executives, human resource professionals, consultants, and coaches. As a member-driven organization it promotes best practices via webcasts, webinars, podcasts, articles, white papers, research and conversations to improve and make the best of the talents of individuals for the benefit of themselves and the organisations they work for.

The Guild enable stimulating and meaningful discussions to help professionals prepare for talent transformations at individual, team and organizational levels. The Guild supports the Talent Transformation Pyramid, an open source model, designed specifically to recognize the widest possible range of talent influencers and skills. To date many decision-makers are caught in traditional, linear thinking and immediate concerns to consider this. The Talent Transformation Pyramid enables you to address the challenge by promoting more strategic thinking with a focus on an organization’s readiness to perform. https://www.talenttransformation.com/

About the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum, new and emerging technologies are affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This new era will build and extend the impact of digitization in new and unimaginable ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving new capabilities for people and machines. This will see new ways for technology to become embedded within societies and even our bodies.

With process automation, robotic automation, the internet of things the nature of work will change. Some analysts predict that more than 40% of tasks currently performed by humans will be delegated to machines. This does not mean that 40% of people will be put out of work but it does mean that most workers will have to upskill. HR experts are predicting this will dramatically change the landscape of our workforce.


About the Guild's Founders

Eric Shepherd an accomplished leader of international businesses and associations focused on talent, assessments, and success. Eric recently stepped away from a CEO role where he worked to build a SaaS company into a multi-million-dollar international assessment software business. Eric has also led industry and standards initiatives to promote best practices for assessments, learning, and interoperability. He currently serves as Chair of the IEEE P1484.20.2 working group developing Recommended Practice for Defining Competencies. Eric has previously served on Boards and working groups for:

  • HR Open Standards that defines interoperability standards for HR technology.
  • Association of Test Publishers and the European Association of Test Publishers that represents providers of tests and assessment tools.
  • The IEEE P1484.20.1 Standard for Learning Technology—Data Model for Reusable Competency Definitions working group.
  • IMS which defines interoperability standards for educational technology. 

Eric was instrumental in developing the IMS QTI interoperability standard and assisted with the US Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative to define the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) to define launch and track standards for Learning Management Systems.

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