Education for our Youngest Generations: Parent and Educator Perspectives

Thursday 05 Nov 2020

Mark McCrindle is a social researcher and influential thought leader. He and his team recently released their The Future of Education 2020 report, which summarises key trends affecting the education sector based on data gleaned from parents and educators.

The report states that ‘to effectively teach, educate and lead the next generation of students, it is important to understand who they are and the world they have been shaped in.’ Gen Alpha (born 2010-2024), is a generation defined by digital, visual, mobile, social and global characteristics. Gen Alpha students are being shaped in a time where online engagement supersedes time spent face-to-face, when the digital is increasingly replacing the physical, and where global influences are often more potent than local ones.

Statistics of interest from the report include:

  • Parents describe Gen Alpha as smart, spoilt, fun, happy and tech-savvy. Educators see Gen Alpha as being curious, smart, energetic, tech-savvy and creative.
  • Educators believe Gen Alpha is confident (67%) and embraces challenges (67%), while Gen Z (born 1995-2009) lacks confidence (58%) and is more likely to avoid challenges (61%). Educators believe Gen Alpha is more likely to persist (64%) and ask for help (79%), while Gen Z is more likely to give up (52%) and struggle in silence (69%).
  • Almost half of educators (48%), and one in five parents (20%), believe up-ageing is a barrier for this generation to thrive. Consistent with this, almost nine in ten parents (87%) and educators (90%) are concerned that children are losing their innocence too soon. At the same time, however, parents (79%) and educators (84%) struggle with the tension between protecting a child’s innocence and educating them for their safety.
  • Educators (82%) and parents (79%) agree that compared to five years ago, the school environment is safer for students of all ethnicity, religions, and gender identities today.
  • Parents are evenly divided when it comes to educational outcomes. Half of parents (51%) believe a secure pathway to employment matters more, while 49% believe the ability to adapt to the changing environment matters more. Educators, however, believe the ability to adapt to the changing environment matters more (72%) than a secure pathway to employment (28%).
  • Nine in ten parents (90%) and educators (88%) agree children need to be digitally literate to succeed. They are aware that digital literacy involves screen time and, as such, seven in ten parents (70%) and educators (69%) agree that children need to spend time on screens to succeed. The tension comes into play, however, in that more than nine in ten parents (91%) and educators (95%) believe children spend too much time on screens.
  • More than nine in ten parents (92%) and educators (95%) are open to a shift away from standardised testing.
  • More than nine in ten parents (96%) and educators (97%) believe schools are effective in educating today’s students to set them up to thrive in the future.

Topics covered in the report include:

  • Up-ageing
  • Social pressures
  • Mental health
  • Social isolation
  • Growth mindset
  • Digital literacy
  • Standardised testing
  • Parent satisfaction
  • Next steps for the education sector

See for yourself the full, easy-to-read, report here.