Preparation for Life

For all educators who believe that school is about so much more than just the transmission of a body of knowledge to achieve academic (exam) results, then the questions and debates are always around what ‘more’ should realistically be, and how to make it as inclusive as possible – in other words, how to ensure that every student fulfils their potential.

If such educators are looking for the very best quality summer reading, then you could do a lot worse than this new report released on the website of the Wallace Foundation, USA. I’ve been a regular reader of material from this organisation over the years as they focus especially on thought-provoking research in to all aspects of Education leadership.

I’m just finishing reading the report and have found that it raised many questions in my mind. As it looks at the development phases at different age groups, it reinforces in my mind the folly of trying to focus on lots of ‘academics’ in the early years. Instead, semi-organised play that enables the children to build their social skills combined with lots of exposure to high quality language. Modest attention should be paid to the development of rudimentary self-management skills, though acknowledging that these will come easier to some than others initially. Control and the drilling of obedience don’t make sense. I believe they can have some choices about how to spend their time.

Yet again, in this report, the aspect of Mindset is seen as vitally important. I get concerned that we are a long way yet from teachers giving this due importance in the classroom, especially in the context of Indian pattern schools. Values are also critical – an area that i have long felt important and critical that we weave in to the learning experience of children.

An education that fails to prepare young people to excel when they emerge in to young adulthood is, in my view, little education at all. As educators we have an enormous responsibility that shouldn’t be underestimated. We can leave young people to their fate, patting ourselves on the back because we crammed there heads with some ‘stuff’ – or, we can take on the messy, complex and challenging responsibilities of equipping them with the skills, competencies, values to aspire to be the best they can be in all the various roles they will fulfil in society.

Foundations for Young Adult Success – Wallace Foundation Website
(Click on the link above to open the website page. There’s a link on the right side of the page to download the whole report.


The Future of College

There’s a saying that’s sometimes used by self-help gurus and management/ leadership experts that says that there’s not much point in climbing to the top of the ladder, only to find that the ladder’s leaning against the wrong wall!

Well, the same could well be applied to the process of education. To many students (and parents) today, their focus as far as outcomes from school education is simple – the best possible scores/ results that enables the best college or university admission. In India this leads to bizarre circumstances where the cut-offs for admissions in some colleges can exceed 100% (Ok, yes, work that one out). When parents see this happening to today’s school pass-outs, they tend to figure that they must double up on their efforts to drive and extract maximum score performance from their child with increased pressure on academic performance (never mind whether we’re really giving thought to the ‘how’ of great academic achievement – that’s an article for another day).

However, what if, by the time your child leaves school the college or university as we know it today no longer exists? If that is a serious possibility then might it cause parents to re-evaluate what their child really needs from their school education.

Here’s a fascinating article from Fast Company that explores changes that are already happening in further Education right now and there’s no question if these continue, then college will look very different for the children studying in schools today.

Fast Company – This is the Future of College

As I read this I had a few thoughts. Firstly, I suspect strongly that there’s still a lot of scope for more innovation that we haven’t started to see yet. Secondly, the pressure for these innovations and changes is already coming, especially from industry and employers who have started making very clear how they are not prepared to accept a further education system that turns out too few candidates with the skills and competencies that employers need and require.

Finally, if college is going to change so drastically, what kind of ‘different ladder’ are students going to need from school? How will their schooling need to be different? I’d love to get views of parents, fellow educators and even students. Whatever, the answers, it’s clear to me it won’t be about chasing another 0.1% on board results.

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