Principals Pen Wednesday, 02 May 2018

Schools were widely established in the UK, USA and Australia in the 19th century. Schools were designed for the industrial era and were structured like the factories they were built to serve. They put children on an assembly line, with the goal to churn out compliant and like-minded graduates who were able to follow top-down instructions.

The structure of schools has remained virtually unchanged since they were established. In the words of Ian Jukes, ‘We’re preparing our students better than ever for the 1960’s.’

This cookie-cutting form of education was appropriate for its time, given the majority of graduates would go on to work in blue collar industries. This approach is, however, now obsolete. As a growing number of jobs become automated, the agricultural and blue collar industries are all but becoming eliminated. (Check out this link to see some interesting jobs of the past that the industrial model of schooling was preparing graduates for.)

Service and creative industries are on the incline. For our students to get a foot in the door of these industries, they need a different set of skills than they’re currently leaving school with. Instead of the industrial model of memorising outdated information, our students need be lifelong learners strong in entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, referred to as ‘soft skills’.

Schools in the 20th century focussed on the three R’s. These skills remain highly important especially in the primary setting, but employers are calling for skills in collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. They are also crying out for employees who are prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn. Traditionally under-valued skills are now the skills that will secure our children jobs in the future. And these are skills that need to be fostered from a young age.

Up until recently, schools and universities have not kept pace with the changing nature of our society and workforce. Why is this? Perhaps it’s a fear of the unknown. Or maybe it’s because our comfort zone lies in the industrial model of education, given this is what most of us experienced for ourselves.

Living Faith is a leader in the educational revolution. We endeavour for our children to be learners rather than regurgitators. We assist our children in high-level thinking by focussing on their ability to ask high-level questions more so than their ability to regurgitate Googleable facts. We strive for our graduates to be adaptable, collaborative, creative, flexible, self-directed, clear communicators, information and media literate, confident technology users, entrepreneurial, globally aware, innovative, responsible leaders and lifelong learners. It sure is an exciting time to be a school kid!

From a Year 6 boy: 'Maths is too much answer time and not enough learning time'. Rik Rowe

The most engaged classrooms aren't teachers asking good questions; they're the classrooms where the kids are asking good questions. Justin Tarte

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. Alvin Toffler

Kids can’t learn to think if we keep telling them what to think. The most important thing that we can do … is ask really hard questions and then step back. Tierney Kennedy

We need to prepare students for their future not our past. Daniel Pink

We aren't teaching children from 20 years ago, so our classrooms shouldn't be the same as 20 years ago either. David Geurin

For those who prefer a visual representation of the changing nature of education, I highly recommend this animated demonstration of a short talk by Sir Ken Robinson in London.

- Jane Mueller