Many jobs in agriculture, mining and transport, and repetitive analytical tasks in accounting and media are being automated. It’s difficult to predict the skills and capabilities employers will seek and reward over the next 5, 10 to 50 years.
Perhaps it’s time to look beyond traditional pathways of training and education. Humans naturally make cognitive connections across apparently disconnected disciplines. Our ability to do so is often shaped by our experiences as young adults.
For me it was fiction, choreography and engineering. At the start of Year 9, my local newsagent sold a serial collection of great classic novels. Each fortnight I’d buy a book that came with a magazine explaining the author, main characters, plot points and historical context. I read the Brontes, Dickens, Austen, Fitzgerald, Shelley and Poe. I still read a diverse range of authors. Fiction allows me immersion in other perspectives and new possibilities.
Also in Year 9, I made the interschool rhythmic gymnastics team. This led to years of competing, judging and a coaching career that helped pay my rent through university. It also affected the way I see ideas. I look for contrasts of high and low, fast and slow, energy and balance. I think about the way things link and how space is used. For what it’s worth, ball and ribbon are still my favourite apparatus.
In Year 10, after I declared I wanted to be an engineer, my friend’s father showed me his research modelling tidal flows, erosion and sea level change for the Queensland coast. I chose to study minerals processing engineering, and my brain became trained to think about the way things flow through systems, linking component parts and optimising outcomes.
Creative storytelling, new vantage points, external perspectives, compelling performance, physical representations, relationships and connections, linking parts to make a whole and facilitating success. It’s these concepts I bring to the heart of the design for Sci.C.Ed. I know students are concerned with making the right choices for the future, but it’s often the parallel experiences that make our thinking unique. It’s the marrying of diverse ideas that give rise to innovation.
Sometimes we discover ourselves through school or our local community, sometimes we meet interesting people or perhaps make a memorable visit to a gallery. Cultural detours allow us to develop our own ways of looking at the world, ways that aren’t easily replicated by others or by robots.
When young people visit Sci.C.Ed, they will be able to experience their place on the earth in a larger universe in our Planet Gallery. We’ll ask questions about what it means to be human in an age of artificial intelligence.
We’ll draw in multiple ways of knowing about science and technology from Western, First Nations and other cultures locally and globally through seasonal exhibitions related to health, communications, defence, psychology and ecology. Sci.C.Ed will provide ways for young people to participate in the design and delivery of exhibits, public talks and other activities.
It will be a place to connect – important as more people move into accommodation, study and work in the west end of the city. Sci.C.Ed will be part of a growing revitalisation of activity and culture that sees this precinct come alive.
I want the experience of being involved in Sci.C.Ed to be an engine for future serendipity, pulling together strands from science to cinema, from maths to music, from engineering to ecology to entrepreneurship. The experiences we have in formal learning should be challenged, enhanced and expanded by our experiences elsewhere. Different ways of thinking will equip us for the challenges we face and enable us to build a beautiful future.
Connect with Dr Kristin Alford: @kristinalford