A leading expert in global education has said Ireland is being left behind in a modern world.
Andreas Schleicher was speaking to Newstalk Breakfast as part of Reimagining Ireland: a new series examining some of the changes people would like to see across a range of areas in a post-pandemic Ireland.
Mr Schleicher is director for education and skills for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of which Ireland is a member.
He said now is the time to examine changes to the system.
"Ireland does well on international comparisons... but this is also the best moment to think about the future.
"The results for Ireland that you have today are essentially the same that Ireland had 20 years ago - there's been very, very little change in learning outcomes.
"While the world has fundamentally changed.
"The kind of tasks that are easy to teach, easy to test therefore have become easy to digitise, to automate they are disappearing from labour markets."
Problems with problem solving
He said students are good at reproducing content, but fall short when it comes to problem solving.
"Irish students are very, very good when it comes to the reproduction of subject matter content - they can repeat what they've learned.
"But they are not so great when it comes to solving complex problems, when it comes to thinking out of the box.
"I do think that our times require a different kind of learning environment, where students can exercise more agency, take more responsibility for their own learning, set their own learning goals, pursue them."
Mr Schleicher said the pandemic has shown that things need to change.
"The pandemic, where students have to learn now independently at home, makes that I think abundantly clear.
"It's really about upgrading learning environments to the needs of the 21st century".
'Ways of thinking are more important'
He said while the basics of learning are important, Ireland is only teaching "the surface of the content".
"I think the basis are very important, but I believe that we teach too many things at superficial levels of depths.
"For example: science is very important, I agree with that, but today it's less important whether you can reproduce specific knowledge of physics and chemistry.
"What is more important [is] can you think like a scientist? Can you design experiments? Can you distinguish cause and effect?
"Same for history: history is no longer about just remembering names and places.
"Can you think like an historian? Can you understand how... a society emerged, how it developed, advanced?
"Those ways of thinking are becoming more important than simply the surface of the content.
"And I think that's the shift - it's not about less basics, it's about thinking differently about those basics, the fundamentals".