As part of Bickley Park’s three way centenary vision, we will be looking into the fabulous future that potentially awaits in the school’s second 100 years of existence. We aim to understand the seismic developments experts are saying are likely to happen within the world of education and society at large. We will consider how the school can position itself best to respond most effectively to this revolution.
A Year 7 Parent recently sent me an interesting article by Greek American entrepreneur Peter Diamandis entitled ‘Reinventing Our Kids’ Education’.
The premise of the article is that elementary schools in the USA haven’t, in essence, changed for decades, yet the world has changed immeasurably: a trajectory that is set to accelerate. It could be argued that the disconnect between what elementary schools teach and the future needs of children he describes in his article is duplicated in U.K. schools which some would say are more aligned to the requirements of Victorian than 21st century Britain. Diamandis advocates that the cornerstone of a 21st education should be nurturing passion, curiousity, imagination, critical thinking and grit. He says ‘The most valuable resource for humanity is the persistent and passionate human mind’ and schools should be seeking to help children find their ‘passion or purpose’. It could be argued that the U.K.’s narrowly test focused curriculum squashes passion for many learners. Diamandis argues that the education system should be producing curious thinkers who develop the ability to ask quality questions, analyse information critically and have the confidence to think independently and imaginatively. Running alongside this should be instilling grit: ‘passion and perseverance in pursuit of long term goals’ that views failure and setbacks as a necessary, positive contributor towards the development of the best ideas. He quotes Einstein as saying ‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious’.
Diamandis advocates giving greater precedence to helping children to present ideas ‘in the most compelling fashion possible’, something that lies at the heart of Bickley Park’s Arts Quadrant. He says children should ‘experience as many adventures, careers and passionate adults as possible’: boys at Bickley Park have exceptional opportunities to learn from amazing speakers like Ben Fogle, Terry Waite and Sean Rose, whilst developing their grit through activities like Adventure School and their understanding of different career paths through Ted Talks and visits by old boys who have pursued different careers from dentistry to being logistics manager of the England football team.
Pupils’ innate interest in technology and coding should be positively encouraged: schools should embrace the amazing possibilities of virtual reality, for instance in the teaching of modern foreign languages. The No 1 source of new wages in the US is in computing and these jobs are projected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs. We should be teaching children to be entrepreneurs from a young age, ‘providing them with opportunities to sell products and services to each other and the school community’. Diamandis believes that the teaching empathy and ethics/moral thinking will be even more important for the future – something with which I would strongly concur: experts are saying that the influence of institutions that have traditionally fostered moral behaviour, such as religious bodies and family units, will potentially lessen. Yet the need for strong ethical thinkers will be even greater in the fast moving, fluid society of the future.