‘It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813). In 2019, it is a truth universally acknowledged that artificial intelligence, or AI, is coming, whether we like it or not.
At the time Pride and Prejudice was written and published, education was largely for gentleman of good fortune. In the last 200 years or so since this famous line was written, education has evolved somewhat, but the characters of Jane Austen’s books would still recognise the basic organisation of classrooms and learning which we see today; however, it is proposed by the engaging Sir Anthony Seldon that AI is going to lead to radical changes in education, what he calls the Fourth Education Revolution. We can choose to see this as an opportunity to liberate humanity or we can fail to prepare and continue our infantilization of society. As the late Stephen Hawking stated in 2018, “AI will either be the best or the worst thing for humanity…”.
Technology, and the ability for that technology to ‘learn’ and evolve, is no longer up for debate as to if it is possible, now merely when it will happen. As machines are able to take on many basic tasks (think ‘Humans’, Channel 4, 2015-2018) we will be given the gift of time. However, (as in ‘Humans’), this could be problematic for society as we may lose many of the jobs we see today, but for those who are prepared to adapt, new opportunities will present themselves. Sir Anthony (2018) proposes that if we as a global society simply wait for this revolution to come, humans will be left ill-prepared to cope and at worst, humanity itself will be destroyed. However, if we prepare, we may be truly free to pursue enhanced fairness, participation and the decline of isolation, spiritual revival and enhanced reflection on happiness – an enticing proposition indeed.
In ‘The Fourth Education Revolution’ (2018) Sir Anthony takes you on a journey through the history of education. Here in the UK, schools remain largely as they always have – we might have better technology and dynamic and engaging teachers, but the format of delivery, exploration, testing understanding and the holy grail of mastery, are very much as they were in Jane Austen’s time. While many schools still hold to the education model of the early 1900s, in many parts of the world the model is radically changing – from a Paris university run without lecturers, to the free-from technology Waldorf schools popular in California; even in exam-obsessed Korea, change is happening.
At Knighton House School in Dorset we have a history of breaking the educational orthodoxy of the day. When the school was founded by the Booker family in 1950, part of their vision was to have a school that was dramatically different to the strict norms of the time. We have continued this theme in recent years, coming out of the traditional Common Entrance system which, incidentally, many other prep schools have now followed. As part of this, we have developed a bespoke curriculum, entitled ‘KED’ or Knowledge, Enlightenment and Discovery. Through our curriculum we strive to develop a well-rounded pupil; nothing new there for an independent school to claim. However, where we believe where we are unique is how we have developed and implemented this curriculum. Putting our learning dispositions at the centre of everything we do, we are indeed teaching ‘from the inside out’ (Sir Anthon Seldon, The Fourth Education Revolution, 2018).
As the world becomes more automated and AI starts to take care of the mundane jobs of life, it will become more important than ever to know what it is to be human. Being human, is broken down by Sir Anthony (2018) into four segments; the mind, the heart, the body and consciousness. At Knighton House we aim to develop our pupils’ ‘human’ talents; to be curious, resilient, to communicate effectively and to be self-aware, are just some of our core concepts. We do this though a series of curriculum days, held each term on a different learning disposition. These are then interwoven into every lesson, in every subject. This year we took our pupils on a voyage of discovery, learned about the importance and methods of communication and took a deep-dive into the world of warrior women. In 2019-20, the focus is heart, body and mind; of which I hope both Miss Austen and Sir Anthony would approve.
Next academic year, to take this idea further we will be learning in an even greater interdisciplinary way. Giving greater opportunities for true cross-curricular learning and allowing long term projects bringing subjects and year groups together, we have introduced what we are calling our ‘Fantasy Friday’ timetable. By teaching our pupils what it is to be truly human, which is so bound up with collaboration and communication, we are confident that the Knighton House curriculum prepares our pupils for whatever the future might hold, regardless of the inevitable changes that will occur.
If you are interested in exploring the idea of education for the future at your school, here is how we did it at Knighton House School:
- Inspiration – attend courses and lectures aimed at the future, such as Bryanston School’s Education Summit
- Research – find out more about the 4.0 revolution (see further reading ideas)
- Identify – what will be the key areas that will be important for your pupils in the future
- Review – what are you already doing in your curriculum
- Share – work with staff to share and brainstorm further ideas
- Collaboration – design a curriculum for your pupils for the future with all subject staff
- Review and evaluate – what were the successes and challenges
- Wider Impact – consider how the curriculum impacts your school structure and policies, such as marking policy, to ensure a cohesive experience
References and Further Reading:
Sir Anthony Seldon (2018) The Fourth Education Revolution: Will Artificial Intelligence Liberate or Infantilise Humanity University of Buckingham Press
The 4.0 Industrial Revolution
Education For the Future
— Written by Miss Sara Skellorn, Head of Science —