True grit

I gave a lecture to the entire 4th year of our Primary B.Ed teacher education programme earlier today, entitled: Educational Values in a Digital Age. Above are the slides that accompanied the lecture. I criticised the worst aspects of formalised schooling where children are taught en masse, and I called for a more learner centred ethos in education. Sure, there is differentiation in schools, but we really don't go far enough, due to lack of time, rigid curriculum and far too few teachers leading to large and often unmanageable classes. But there is an even deeper problem: Teachers are trying to prepare children for work in a world that is constantly changing. I made the point that digital technologies and social media can help to overcome some of the problems teachers face as they get students ready to enter a world of work we can't even begin to imagine yet.

I quoted from Yvonne Robert's book 'Grit: the skills for success and how they are grown', which I picked up after hearing her keynote at Handheld Learning in October. It is a brilliant critique of the current assessment regimes. Roberts argues convincingly that current assessment methods place far too much emphasis on academic qualifications and not enough on self discipline and personal skills. She also points out that teaching literacy, numeracy and science is not enough to prepare children for a world of work which is constantly changing and unpredictable. She calls for more emphasis to be placed on helping students in coping with change, creative thinking and collaborative working.

The 160 students in the group were animated in their discussion of these points, both during and after the lecture. I'm very encouraged by these excellent young people. They are the new revolutionaries - the young, dynamic new teachers that can go into their schools and make a real difference. Let's hope their more experienced colleagues support them and harness their knowledge and enthusiasm.


Gemma said…
Thats a great slide show looks very interesting i am just curious of how excatly this will all play out can we really educate people better for work
Nick Sharratt said…
This is outside my area of 'expertise' but why let that stop me having an opinion right? :)

2 things strike me on this topic:

1) is the world of future work really that unknown? If you look at the jobs from say 30 years ago, how many still exist today? Ok, the balance of jobs has changed drastically away from manufacturing and into services, and there are new jobs that didn't exist, but there are lots of jobs that are still around and unlikely to change in the future too. Plumbers, bricklayers, mechanics, nursing, burger flipping etc have all changed somewhat, but it would seem reasonable to assume they'll still exist. What percentage of roles in say the next 30 years are really going to be that 'unknown' after all?

2) my observation of society is that there are very few visionaries and decision makers, or entrepenures, innovators. The majority of the world seems content to drift in life doing a job they know, not wishing to stretch themselves to learn too much new, until circumstances force them too. I don't like this observation, and a I have no evidence besides personal observation, I hope I'm wrong, but if it is true, is that a 'bad thing' just because I don't like it? Should we really expect the all or even a majority of society to engage with taking charge of life long learning or their own skills development? Perhaps education could concentrate on immediate skills and education for many, but provide enabling skills and encourage an aptitude for continuous learning etc in those who show an interest in doing so. This may life long as people reach a point of self reflection and desire at different ages rather than expecting all children to squire these skills before they leave school?

Lastly - I'm not comfortable with my own opinion on this as it feels elitist and discrimatory so I'm hoping there are goof reasons I'm wrong.

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