Moving from the known

Zach Sims (co-founder of CodeAcademy) at World Economic Forum in Davos (https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/01/how-computer-coding-can-help-crack-unemployment/) has suggested that education has to evolve to take account of the changes wrought by technology; that the content being taught in schools right now is, quite simply, out-of-date and unhelpful.

When viewed from the position of a secondary teacher in the classroom everyday, working with the development of their adolescent charges, to explore the gentle slopes of literature or algebra, the causes of the First World War or the structure of the atom, this all seems rather scary.

To build a curriculum takes time and some considerable understanding of how ideas will relate to each other, build through an education and can form a complete, and hopefully satisfying, whole by the time the public exams come round. Having to start again is somewhat daunting. Even the changes brought by GCSE and A-level reform, are building on existing structures, and tweaking them, for a new set of criteria – and that is asking quite enough, thank you, of hard pressed teachers.

To build a whole new idea of what an education should be, and what it hopes to be doing, is some considerable challenge, and yet it trips so easily off the tongue of anyone not involved in education each and every day. Building a new curriculum, even a new structure to education is a huge challenge, so much of a challenge that it is awfully tempting to just stick with what we know, because, well, it has worked so well up until now.

Really, every teacher knows we cannot keep doing what we have been doing for the last decades, or even just tweaking what we have been doing, much longer. Whole-hearted reform to take account of changing values, opportunities and skills already seen in successful workplaces or whole communities, is surely just over the horizon, and we must start recognising that teaching, and indeed the whole question of what we hope to achieve by educating, is ripe for questioning. A new paradigm for education is indeed being demanded, but how to get there from here, is likely to be littered with good intentions that we will need to stay strong in vision to not see them slip by the wayside.

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