How are schools preparing children for the future, when change will be rapid and technological innovation even more so? What jobs will exist? How do we teach a generation that’s more intelligent than the last and technologically ‘ready?’ Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned speaker on education, has considered some of these questions and talked about “the need not for school evolution, but for school revolution” and that it’s the responsibility of all educators to address these needs.
In my mind, being future ready involves ensuring children can thrive in fast rapidly changing environments and demonstrating how to build strong relations with the broader, without forgetting the traditional 3 ‘R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic). This approach ensures children not only do not become overwhelmed, but understand how to actively shape the world around them.
International schools by their very multicultural and global nature are well placed to help children continuously adapt to a fact changing world. They offer children a range of contextually rich and relevant experiences that open their eyes and ears to the experiences of others and worlds beyond their own immediate family and culture. Of course, teachers need to help children take advantage of this learning through reflection.
Encouraging reflection is easier said than done, but it starts with demonstrating reflection on the part of the teachers, providing children and their parents with regular analysis of their individual progress and positive relationships, combined with purposeful written and verbal feedback. This approach comes naturally to those who focus on a personalised approach to learning, knowledge of students’ performance, preferences, and interests can be used to inform the next steps in their learning, rather than the next page in the textbook.
The environment for learning is not limited to the school house. Schools can find many ways in the local community for children to gain further opportunities for cultural exploration and reflection. Through conscious positive and constructive interactions, and understanding their context in relation to their own core values, pupils discover responsibility, persistence, and resilience and demonstrate appropriate social behaviour to their peers. This leads to individuals who grow up to understand not only how to build long lasting relationships, but who contribute to influencing their environment for the better.
This is not to suggest soft skills and emotional intelligence take precedence over traditional core skills. Whatever the future holds, it goes without saying literacy, numeracy, and technology skills, skills that transcend traditional subject boundaries, will be necessary. The core curriculum of schools now and in the future must require and maintain high standards in these core areas.
Above all, schools must help children become people who are determined to succeed, relish challenges, and seek solutions. To become the innovators of tomorrow, children must have both a rich experience of the world’s diversity and the confidence to feel they can be agents of change. A 21st century school should challenge the traditional hierarchical models of learning, seek opportunities outside the classroom, and be personalised to student’s needs.