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What are we educating our children for?

The recent report from the World Economic Forum makes the point that 65% of current Primary School children will enter a job that does not yet exist.  I find this statistic staggering.

David Price, in his best selling book, ‘Open. How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future’, proposes the idea whole new landscape of the job market. He argues that groups of people are likely to group together, offering a range of skills for hire. Of course, this more flexible, uncertain work place demands new skills and attributes, and certainly adaptability.

The traditional educational model, centred on a teacher, in which knowledge is transferred, remembered and tested, seems increasingly irrelevant and unfit for purpose. 

But this model is cheap and simple to operate, and perhaps even more importantly, it’s easy to test. As such, governments around the world often favour it; very few, seem to be willing to challenge the model. 

Rather than valuing what we can easily measure we need to find ways to measure what we truly value.

One of the other problems with this system is that it promotes and values one approach to learning; there tends to be one type of student who is ‘good at schooling’. Of course, experience tells us that many of the most brilliant and successful people in the world were not ‘good at school’; they became successful almost despite the school system.

Indeed Dan Pink, in his book “A Whole New Mind” suggests that success in the future may depend far more on right-brain thinkers, and that creative thinking will be the stuff of entrepreneurialism.

This led the community at BISH to challenge the purpose of education in our Strategic Plan.

Our plan clearly lays out the importance of educating our students for the realities of their future.

“...we must prepare our students with the contemporary skills, attributes and concepts that prepare them for their fast-changing, globally connected, technology-rich future”.

For us, this requires a constructivist approach to learning, in which students take ownership of their own learning. In this model, the philosophy switches from one of having something that must be given to the student, to one in which we believe each student has the ability to learn anything and the role of the teacher is to help facilitate that process; to co-construct learning with the student.

Rather than the traditional giving, receiving and testing model, this is truly personalised, relevant, engaging and empowering.

While this is beginning to happen in all areas, one deliberate example of personalised learning is the MiLearning project. Otherwise known as ‘genius hour’ or ‘passion projects’, MiLearning allows students to pursue real-life and personalised learning, with a coach/mentor guiding them.

Of course, we must continue to prepare our students to do well on external exams and tests, but this is no longer enough. We must also find ways to prepare our students for the realities of their future; to truly personalise their learning around their needs

We have a saying where I come from in the UK that seems quite relevant to standardised education and testing

“You don’t make a pig any fatter just by weighing it”.

Andrew Derry

Nov 2016

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