A “focus on compliance” is driving innovative teachers from the profession, according to the official who runs the Pisa international education rankings.
Speaking at an international conference in London, Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said education was “losing its relevance” in an increasingly digitised world with creative teachers often restricted by the curriculum they are expected to teach.
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“Our systems often drive out those teachers who want to be creative designers,” he said.
“Teachers who are researchers of innovative learning environments are often insufficiently supported in this.”
He called for an end to a curriculum “a mile wide and an inch deep”, instead advising the audience: “The secret of success is to teach fewer things at greater depth.”
“There’s a big gap between what the world needs and what our education systems are designed for,” he said.
“In the past literacy was about extracting knowledge from established texts. Today you look up a question on Google and you get about 50,000 answers – and nobody tells you what is right and what is wrong.
"Literacy is no longer about extracting knowledge; literacy is about constructing knowledge."
He added: “Learning is the easy part. What is much harder for humans is to unlearn things and relearn things as the world is changing.
“We treat students as consumers. Parents are clients, teachers are service providers. That model will no longer work. Today is about making everyone an active participant in the learning environment."