At an educational conference at Highfield School in Surrey on Tuesday I attended, one of the keynote speakers Sir Anthony Seldon, opened with: “Every school in the country needs to have dogs, several of them”. Tick that one at Knighton.
Unsurprisingly the main theme of Sir Anthony’s talk was not about dogs but about the future of education and the 4.0 education revolution with the thought that it’s the future not the past we should be guided by. 90% of the children in prep schools will be around in the 22nd Century focussed minds on the future, not just on AI and technology innovation, but on how we educate them for their future. He stressed that of course, “exams are very very important, but they’re not all important”, what is much more important is how we educate children to be socially, morally, physically, emotionally and spiritually intelligent.
“Employers focus above all on the attitudes and aptitudes that will enable graduates to be effective in the workplace. These characteristics are ranked more highly than academic grades and formal qualifications” [Source: CMI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey (2017)]
Education is not just about delivering an answer in the right way, to the right question, at the right time; it’s so much more on so many levels. An education system predicated on data, on scores and results is a flawed one if that is the one thing that matters. Yes they are part of the overall picture but never at all costs; so what if you get 12 A*s if you can’t communicate, collaborate and be a problem solver.
“We rarely employ straight A students. What we’ve discovered over the years is that their field of knowledge is too narrow and they haven’t developed as people. We find that they just can’t cope with life, and they cause endless problems and frictions. We like to choose students who are bright, but broad, with character. The thing is, if somebody’s intelligent we can teach them the skills we need – and the skills they learnt at school will probably become outdated anyway. But what we can’t do is teach them to be rooted.” Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
There was great deal to take in and digest from Tuesday’s conference, what was reassuring was to listen to Sir Anthony and others talk about education so passionately and with common sense. In the end it is all about the children and how we can give them the best possible start to their lives. It’s not as simple as putting them all into the same box, filling them with knowledge and then testing them on whether they’ve remembered everything. Instead, what we should be doing according to Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith is, “to help students develop decisive life advantages – things they are so good at, and so passionate about, that they stand out in adding value to their employers or community”.
There was also something about perceptual efficiency but I haven’t yet figured that one out.