became the mantra for the country. “Would you buy a Korean TV 15 years ago?” he asked. “Probably not. Today I buy a Samsung instead of a Sony. That’s what education can do.”

Today, he said, education in the EU and the United States were lagging. “There is an old saying: if you tell them, they will forget; if you show them, they will remember; if you involve them, they will understand. We need to change education in that way.” He said that he chaired the European section of the World Economic Forum on Education, and was very interested in the results of PISA, which measures 15- and 16-year-old students’ skills in mathematics, science, and reading. “The results show you pretty much what you will get in the economy and innovation 7 to 10 years later,” he said. New champions were emerging. Usually PISA is won by the Finns, he said, because their educational system is so good, or by the Koreans. Last year, however, “students from Shanghai beat both groups by thirty points in every category. That is equivalent to about one year’s advantage in reading, mathematics and science.”

Not only STEM skills, but also ‘Soft’ Skills

The development of new skills in mathematics, science, and logic would be needed to drive an innovation economy, but not sufficient. The best computers today are beating the best chess players. “That’s why I say we need STEM-plus—STEM plus soft skills, self-awareness, creativity, innovation.” He returned to the example of Finland, which established two years ago an “Auto University,” or Innovation University, where students study not only technology and economics, but also art. “This is a broad concept, and they’ve got excellent results. They are trying to recreate a startup mentality.”

Dr. Muehlfeit concluded by underlining the need for better life-long learning programs. He described some joint research between Microsoft and the International Data Corporation; one conclusion was that in five years, 90 percent of all jobs will require at least basic electronic skills. Today, he said, 40 percent of the European population still lacks e-skills. “We need to continue lifelong learning. I’ll illustrate what is wrong. When kids are in kindergarten in Europe, 90 percent of them would like to be innovators and entrepreneurs, would like to do something out of the comfort zone. By the time they leave university, only 17 percent feel that way, and only 4 percent will actually do it. That’s because the old system, which is based on logic and memorizing, is not unlocking human potential.

“Imagine a system where through technology you will be able to learn in your own individual style. Today the base of the educational system is grounded in the industrial era, when we decided the factory is a good model for education. The factory is a place where everyone is told what to do.”

Dr. Muehlfeit ended by challenging his audience to unlock the creativity and innovation of students and adults alike. “Now we know that everybody learns in their own way, and that’s what technology through e-learning can deliver. Research by Gallup says that 80 percent of all job holders

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement