With 3 young children you often think about their future – how smart will they be? what will their strengths be? what will they enjoy doing? You stare at them as they develop, amazed at how quickly they grasp things and in bewilderment at how their brains work sometimes.
You also think back and think – was I provided with all the right stimulus? Did I do enough at school? Was I pushed towards stuff or did I go myself?
I recently watched a two part BBC documentary that I found really interesting. It was all about how the current teaching methods being used by teachers are not really helping students in the sense that they (a) promote the knowledge of the brighter children, (b) allow only for the interaction of the ‘smarter’ students and (c) have them focusing on what their grades are rather than what they learnt and where they should improve.
This was an amazing insight into how badly designed the teaching system is – and one which is promoted throughout most of the world. It also showed how certain methods even the playing field for students.
Watching the programme then reminded me of one of the classic TEDTalks from Ken Robinson.
In this talk, Sir Ken (as he is known) discusses how the current system and curriculum is not viable for the world we live in. We have created a widely adopted academic hierarchy with little thought for the diverse universe of students going through schools. With only 2 hrs of PE per week how is a potential cricketer going to develop into a world class player? With 1hr of drama per week, where will the next Anthony Hopkins come from? Or Jamie Oliver?
In the US they have the ‘No child left behind’ ethos, but simply making education available to them isn’t doing them justice. There needs to be a mix in subjects that reflects the mix in society. I have no idea where plumbers learn their trade, but I do know that very few will have been pushed to that career from their teachers’ understanding of where their strengths and interests lie.
As my kids grow up, I want them to have as many options available to them so they can truly find where their interest lie as well as what their strengths are and (to me) the only way to do that is through a balanced learning system.
Also, we are teaching our kids for a future we do not yet know what it will look like so how can we possibly presume to know the hierarchy of the skills needed for it.
I’ll finish with another TedTalk from Cameron Herold around how to make kids more entrepreneurial. I think there are some great lessons here about skills that are often forgotten but quite important.