Ryan McCroskery, Chemistry Course Leader at Havering Sixth Form College, explores the future of education in his Lightning Talk. At our Science Educator Residency (10 & 11 July 2017), educators are asked to share a challenge, question or viewpoint from their journey as an educator, and inspire colleagues in our 2-minute lightning talks which we will be sharing with you over the coming month.


Universal Education RightHaving read several articles on robots coming to take peoples jobs, I have always felt a little smug as most if not all predictions are for the educational area to be largely off limits to robots. This is due to the social aspects required for teaching and interacting with students. However, considering the forecast for a large number of jobs to be replaced by robots (say 40-50% of the population) in only 20-30 years’ time, assuming some kind of universal income, why will the government need to educate 40-50% of the population? Education is required to train people to become functioning members of society – to do jobs. Is there a bare minimum of education required for a person who will never have a job unless they want to? If a significant part of the population does not need it, universal education will be defunct. Maybe I need to be worried.

Oculus Education

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I am fascinated with how technology is changing the world and benefits that come with it. With the coming of AI and increasingly immersive technology such as virtual reality, we are on the cusp of some real change in society. The change however could be looked at as being negative especially during the transition to a lifestyle with increased leisure time. In a world that does not increasingly need humans, will human rights be eroded? On a much more personal selfish level will l I need to plan to find another job before I retire?

Acceptance of being redundant is going to have to come to all aspects of society – even if you are in the education field. The predictions above do not even take into account that perhaps an AI is invented that could deal with students like a real human teacher. If you wish to continue to be a science teacher in the future you will have to show you deliver consistent real value added to your students. As for being chosen to have a chance to become a teacher? Who knows?

Finally, we asked Ryan – what do you think is the biggest challenge to science education?

Science professions are not seen as being lucrative or exciting. It is a struggle to encourage students to undergo further pure science education when you know it is not an easy life. Scientists are rare during careers sessions at school or colleges. Most science is poorly funded, and a lot of time is spent by scientists on raising funds for research. Tackle this via eliminating student debt for science. Increase money for science research. Only once this is in place raise awareness/links between scientists and students in years 10-12.

Ryan McCroskery is Course leader for Chemistry at Havering Sixth Form College and has taught Science and Chemistry for 10 years in both London and New Zealand. 

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