Rethinking How We Educate Our Teenagers

In the last few weeks  in Australia the media has been awash with arguments about school league tables, national standardised testing, and funding formulas. While such matters should be debated, as they can have drastic effects on the quality of education, it felt like listening to people discuss how to rearrange deck chairs on the titanic.

In a world changing as rapidly as ours, and the resulting shift in the shape of national economies, it seems like we waste a lot of time talking about how to measure out dated  education models.  Wouldn’t it be great if the public space was full of debate about how education and the systems that support it, could be changed to give our young people an education that is relevant to their present and future needs.

So it was great relief to come across two bits of media this last week that offer a different vision. Two Englishmen, in two different forums, speaking about two different aspects of education, but both offering a vision and provoking conversations that go beyond the maintaining of the status quo in education.

How We Think Of Schooling

I also came across this great infographic on rethinking educational paradigms (thanks to Barking Robot). This is a great animation based on a speech by Sir Ken Robinson, also a former UK government advisor, who is a renowned creativity expert and author.

The video below will be challenging and inspiring even if you are not at all involved or well versed in the world of education.

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) by Sir Ken Robinson.

Using Triage Principles for Public Funding

I heard an interview with Lord David Puttnam, famous movie producer and former digital adviser to the UK government, speaking about education. During the interview he presented an approach to public funding that made a lot of sense.

Puttnam had spent some time studying the principles of triage and public funding. Triage is the process by which doctors decide on who should be treated based on chances of recovery and resources available. Puttnam suggests that if similar criteria were applied to public funding then education would be an absolute priority for the future survival of a country.

The three main reasons he gives are:

  1. The competitive landscape of the 21st century is a skills and talent landscape. The nations that prove they have the most talented and innovative people will be the success stories and the ones that don’t are going to have a lot of problems.
  2. The educational world is going to have to come to terms with the fact that it must meet the expectations of the new generation of young people. Kids expect to be taught using the technology and the tools they are familiar with.
  3. Unless a country “has a world-class education system you can say goodbye to the possibility of sustainable pensions, a sustainable health service or public service. Only an education system can drive a nation to a place where it can afford those other things.”

For Puttnam prioritising the funding of education means investing in infrastructure and technology, while also in the training and quality of the teachers. An education system is only as good as the quality of the average teacher. In order to provide quality education that equips teenagers for the future, teachers need to be constantly trained and retrained so that they are as up to date as their students.

The video below is another address of Puttnam’s that does not specifically mention his Triage principle, but does provoke serious thinking about how important digital education is for our kids and our futures.

Title Image by ÅdneD

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