Why Aussie Schools Should Teach Students To Think And Not Rote Learn

Why Aussie Schools Should Teach Students To Think And Not Rote Learn

In this guest post, founder of Inventium an innovation consultancy, Dr Amantha Imber (picutured below), says the robots are coming for aussie jobs, and that, she says, means a total rethink on how we educate us humans for a future workforce…

So much of what I remember about school was memorising the “right” answers. I memorised mathematical formulas. I memorised historical moments and dates. I memorised lines from Shakespearean plays. And I memorised these lessons so I would “do well on the test”.


Even though it’s been around 20 years since I last set foot into a school as a student, not enough has changed. Students still spend a large amount of their time memorising facts rather than learning how to think.

The Foundation for Young Australians’ most recent Work Smart Report tells us that by 2030, robots will have largely taken over jobs requiring people to complete manual and repetitive tasks. This means the ability to memorise the right answers will actually be quite useless given robots beat humans at tasks requiring the memorisation of facts any day of the week.

The skill that students desperately need more of is the ability to solve problems creatively. The FYA Work Smart report predicts that by 2030, workers will be spending 100 per cent more time solving problems. The ability to solve problems has to start at school. If it doesn’t, schools are simply not doing a good job in getting students ready for the new world of work that awaits them.

At the innovation consultancy that I run, we wanted to help create a solution to the problem, rather than simply highlight these issues with the current school system. And being a parent of a 3.5 year-old, I was also very personally motivated. I do not want my daughter competing with robots for work when she leaves school in a decade and a half’s time.

The solution we arrived at was Hack in a Box (www.hackinabox.com.au), an in-classroom program that has some of Australia’s largest corporates setting challenges for students to solve. The program focuses on teaching students critical and creative thinking skills, and has students applying these skills to solving real world challenges.

Village Roadshow were one of the program’s first corporate sponsors. I remember speaking to Jon Satterley, the Chief Digital Officer at Village Roadshow several months ago when we first went out looking for corporate partners. The appeal of Hack in a Box was to gain a completely different perspective on some of the company’s toughest challenges. After all, the standard brainstorming session involves a fairly non-diverse group of adults at most companies around the world.

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  • Paul Catmur 2 years ago

    I’m not sure what you’re a doctor of, Dr Imber, but I think you’ll find it’s ‘Rote Learn’.

  • John Bastick 2 years ago

    Whoops – that was B&T’s mistake. Nice pick-up and now amended.

Dr Amantha Imber

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