Veronika Zonabend: You are the owners and creators of your life

Photo: Russian-Armenian University

Co-founder of IDeA and Scholae Mundi Foundations, Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College Veronika Zonabend delivered a lecture at the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University on April 20. Below we present excerpts from her speech.

Artificial intelligence and exaptation

The fight in the digital world will be for creative potential, i.e. for those who can create something new from the information flow. Most of standard operations will fall to robots and machines as a result of development of artificial intelligence. One of the first professions to disappear will be lawyer, financier, accountant, and HR-manager, as machines will be able to perform standard operations and calculate various options faster.

Who will be in demand then? Creative people. Creative person is someone who can find out-of-the-box solutions. They can connect dots outside of algorithm, which haven’t been connected before. You need to be a broad-minded person to do that. Creative thinking is impossible without deep knowledge.

Exaptation is a term of the future. What is that? Adaptability is the ability to adapt to new life conditions and survive. Armenians know well how to do that. The slogan of the Aurora Initiative – “From survival to prosperity” - is dedicated to that ability. The difference between adaptability and exaptation or pre-adaptation, is that the latter includes creation of new possibilities and innovation solutions. Exaptation is a quality we need to develop in ourselves. It is a skill to view uncertainty not as a punishment of cause of stress, but as a source of new opportunities.

We don’t know 80% of professions that will be in demand 15-20 years from now. But most likely, the future will hold in demand the professions related to human interaction.

Teacher is the profession of the future

Teachers will be main innovators. They will come up with new ways and solutions for uncommon situations. Teacher is a creative profession. The education of the future will have great need in dialogue, exchange of opinions, and mentorship.
Current education industry that forms the main assets of the future is extremely ineffective. The education system was created for industrial society that required large numbers of performers of standard operations.

On “Free from School” movement

I think that “Free from school” is a protest movement, as the existing education system doesn’t provide what it must. Many parents begin to think that children will acquire more knowledge at home than in school. I believe that the online education sector will increase significantly. However, people need social skills and the ability to work in a team. I think that “Free from school” will transform into a different form of education.

Dilijan cluster as education ecosystem

Education is not what happens in the classroom. It is what concerns the entire ecosystem. Now we are trying to create Dilijan cluster, which is based on the idea of retraining teachers.

This is about creating an education environment that will help children develop skills necessary to succeed in post-industrial society. We are trying to create a common space where teachers from primary, middle and high schools, and professional technical colleges will work together. The cluster in Dilijan will be created by the private-public partnership principle, which allows us to train professionals for the education sector, bringing the best people to the occupation of teacher. We closely cooperate with Teach for Armenia initiative to realize this idea.

You can achieve anything if you believe

I sincerely believe that Armenia can become a regional education hub, where people will come to learn from different countries. The example of our school proves that it’s possible. Armenia is an attractive place for creative people, who look for uncommon solutions. Of course, the country has geopolitical challenges, but the world is changing quickly. Only indifference and the feeling that nothing depends on you can destroy a country. I have great impressions from the young generation in Armenia. I want you to believe that you are the owners and creators of your life and that you influence the environment you inhabit. You can achieve anything if you believe.

Mariam Manoyan


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