Following a career in marketing I moved into teaching so that I could be around for my children. It is amazing how little the system has changed since I was at school. Which is surprising, especially when you consider how much the world has evolved and the different skills that will be be required to thrive in this new world. I work in the independent sector as a one-to-one teacher for children who have dyslexia, dyscalculia and other difficulties. The existing system struggles to recognise the creativity, verbal ability and original approaches that these children often excel in. Actually, the problem that most of them face isn’t their lack of ability, but an education system that only recognises and rewards a very narrow range of skills that have barely changed in the last 50 years. The system was designed to produce either academics, professionals or workers. It has changed so little because it employs, almost exclusively, people who did well under this system, have stayed in education and have little experience of the outside world. The system suited them very well, so why change it? This goes some way to explain the lack of creative development in terms of what is taught and how it is assessed. Trouble is, many of these traditional jobs will be replaced by technology in the near future ( including the professionals not just the workers). The future skills that will be in demand will be creative agile thinking and problem-solving skills, and schools are not recognising or developing these talents.
After a discussion with a parent who is dissatisfied with the education choices on offer in the UK, I have come up with some ideas about how education could develop in the future to teach a much broader range of skills to discover every individual’s true talents and future opportunities. So here goes..
I have never understood why it takes so many hours and years to teach what is required to achieve GCSEs and A Levels. I can only conclude that there is a lot of inefficiency, yet this process never seems to be questioned or re-visited. In my ideal school only 40% of the time would be used to teach examination subjects. Achieving 5-7 GCSEs is enough to enable a pupil to carry on to study A Levels and go onto university, if desired. So I propose that 40% of the time is used to acquire 5-7 GCSEs but taught in a much more efficient way.
That leaves 60% of the time for non-examination subjects and this is where it gets interesting. I would not limit teaching to teachers. For the non-examined subjects the ideal teacher would be someone who is passionate and accomplished in their speciality. Some of this instruction would be delivered online. Better that technology is taught by a successful tech entrepreneur from California than an IT teacher who has never worked in business. Teachers should be passionate and leaders in their field-the best and most inspirational that the world has to offer.
So here are my first thoughts on the subjects that would be taught:-
Mind: problem-solving, resilience, meditation, thinking, questioning and ethics.
Body: conventional sport but also dance, yoga, running, canoeing , climbing etc
Music: conventional instruments but also composing and using music technology
Art and Design with a range of different media
Drama and public speaking to develop confidence and presence
Social confidence (social skills, empathy, meeting and greeting etc)
Technology: coding, apps, video, smart homes, medical tech etc…really high quality content taught by tech stars..
Making and repairing: building, motors, mechanics, computers, furniture, jewellery ..making and mending real things.
Food and nutrition including cooking and growing food
This would give everyone exposure to a range of skills and passions that they can develop throughout their life. It also recognises the range of areas where the new jobs of the future will be. The ideal building for the school would be a new build with inspiring architecture using the latest environmentally sensitive innovative systems to generate energy, based in a clean-air location.
I would love to have gone to a school like this! Everyone must have a vision of what the perfect education system would look like…what’s yours?