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Dr. Einat Wilf, former Member of Knesset who served as Chair of the Education, Sports and Culture Committee, led a panel of education experts who presented their visions for the future of education and outlined ways to overcome existing challenges in order to make their visions a reality.

 

Brandeis University President  Professor Fredrick Lawrence said, “the challenge we face in universities today is to educate students not only for the day after they graduate, but also for a future that is literally unforeseeable and unimaginable. We have to give them certain skills that will be necessary – such as the ability to think clearly, analyze, communicate clearly, think creatively, and more than anything, the ability to  turn raw information into knowledge. Access to more information is becoming easier and easier, making the ability to analyze an even greater challenge.” He emphasized that more focus should be placed on interactive learning, small scale learning and one-on-one teaching rather than the traditional large scale lecture model.

Dr. Jeannette Wing, Vice President, Head of Microsoft Research International and former Head of the Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University stated, “my vision is that computational thinking will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world by middle of 21st Century.” This, she explains, is not just computer literacy or computer programing, but the ability to think like a computer scientist and “teach the concepts of computer science that can be used to tackle large and complex problems.” She says this vision is already starting to play out at higher education levels and hopes it will continue to grow. Although she acknowledges the challenge to find qualified teachers to support this effort, she believes it will be possible to achieve by the middle of the century.

 

Dan Shechtman, the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and recipient of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry emphasized that, “You must differentiate between education and teaching. Teaching is providing knowledge. Education makes you a better human being. Two different  things. We invest a lot in teaching and too little in education in Israel. This should be changed in the future.” He maintains that the future of education lies in instilling the love of learning in children’s minds, and the ability to present information in an interesting and fun way to even the youngest students.

 

Wendy Kopp, Founder and Chairman of Teach For America, and CEO and Co-Founder of Teach for All, a global movement for ensuring educational excellence and equity made up of a growing network of 26 independent organizations around the world, said that there are a number of different areas that must be addressed but that, “People, talent and leadership are at the center of the solution. “One fundamental part of the solution is to channel society’s top talent- our most promising future leaders – and channel that energy into classrooms.” She stated that while teachers are critical, we need to change the ways we set up our school systems, which will require tremendous commitment and leadership.

 

Professor Daphne Koller, the Co-founder of the online education start-up, Coursera, and the Rajeev Motwani Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University said, “I envision  a world where great education from the best teachers is available anytime and anywhere. It is not a privilege for a select few, but available for anyone who needs.” She believes this can be made possible  through the use of technology, by preserving teaching  and making  it available to anyone around the world.

 

Facing Tomorrow 2013 takes place from June 18-20, 2013 at Jerusalem's International Convention Center. The conference is organized in partnership with Hebrew University.