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Teaching to the unknown

Drone Delivery: Room 23A

Quantum computing: Room 7CC

Self-driving cars: parking lot

Sounds familiar? Absolutely not. These might be the classrooms of tomorrow. Traditionally education has been a question of teaching ‘the known’.  But things have changed dramatically. The big question then is: Who are we teaching today? How are we preparing our students for tomorrow?

The world has changed. Countries have changed. Politics have changed. Schools? Teachers? They still need to change.

We are definitely no longer teaching for the ‘known’. We are teaching for the unknown. We are preparing students for a world which does not yet exist. So which are the things that we ought to be teaching our young people in schools?

We need to teach kids values, emotional intelligence, love and empathy, competences to be able to solve hard problems. We need to teach them not science but scientific thinking, not history but the ability to make historical connections. We need to teach them to think critically. We must help our younger generations to be lifelong learners by themselves, to deal with all the information in a way that machines won’t be able to.

We need to focus on understanding and see that we provide students with the skills to be autonomous learners who learn and know how to work cooperatively in a much more demanding world. Students will have to learn and relearn continuously beyond the things that they already know. Abilities such as connecting ideas, comparing and contrasting, being able to transfer knowledge from one domain to another and being able to solve new problems with the understanding that is required from XXI century students. Not just solve problems which have been solved by others before but new ones to which even teachers don’t have the answers to.

Teach for understanding not just knowing. There is a big gap between one term and the other and if we want to teach for the unknown then what we need to do is teach students to understand.

We must address the ever changing challenges of the future. We must teach the ‘unknown’ now.  The question which lies here is: are we ready to rise up to the challenge?

Maria Barberis


Maria Barberis is a Mg in Education Management from UNSAM and holds a Diploma in ELT Management from Surrey University. She graduated in 1977 from Catholic University of Argentina as a Teacher of English where she then taught Grammar I & II. In 1982, she co – founded Windmill Institute at CABA. For the past twenty-five years, she worked at Marin School in San Isidro, Buenos Aires, where she performed different managerial positions such as Head of English Department in Primary and Secondary, IBD Coordinator and School Principal. At the moment, she is a teacher trainer and educator for schools as well as for companies.


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