It’s school, but probably not how you remember it.
In 2020, if learning institutions want to thrive, they now have no choice but to be future-ready and innovation-focused. The mission: To provide students with an education that gets them fully up to speed with current applications in advanced technology — ready for a brave new world.
Big changes ahead
It’s a daunting task, because teachers must help students prepare for a workforce that can’t yet be fully described — especially since the traditional office-based methods of working are falling away. The internet has not yet killed the nine-to-five, but it’s on life support.
Educators are therefore tasked with not only teaching students facts and figures but also how to think for themselves, because this new generation will enter a rapidly developing career landscape where the pace of change will only accelerate.
And allowing students to find their own unique talent is being recognised as key to creating future innovators. Dogma is out, self-expression is in — or at least it should be, according to British author and education advisor Sir Kenneth Robinson in his hugely popular TED Talk, Do schools kill creativity?
He put it this way: “So, you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.”
All students are stretched and challenged to ask and develop their own questions to reach their potential and beyond
Jason King, Head of Secondary at Sunmarke School in Dubai, says his team are embracing this new approach.
“All students are stretched and challenged to ask and develop their own questions to reach their potential and beyond,” King says. “Opportunities are provided for all through numerous activities undertaken in the classroom, on the sports field, performing on stage, educational visits abroad, organising charity events for the community, or representing the school as outstanding ambassadors.”
On the tech front, computing as a core part of learning is essential to ensure that children are up to date with the latest standards and that they know when it’s appropriate to use their skills.
Parents often worry that computers and tablet devices are used to play games, but they are actually used more like a pencil case — as a tool to assist in solving problems, take notes and record their findings when taking part in investigations.
“Parents often worry that computers and tablet devices are used to play games, but they are actually used more like a pencil case — as a tool to assist in solving problems, take notes and record their findings when taking part in investigations,” explains David Williams, Head of EYFS and Key Stage 1, Regent International School, Dubai.
“It has also led to a more collaborative approach to learning between the pupils and teachers alike, meaning that learning can take place at anytime and anywhere.”
Meanwhile, GEMS Education schools have committed to enquiry-based learning approaches across all ages and stages, extending to how the students think, collaborate, research and innovate. Additionally, all students access a Global Futures curriculum that teaches them about exponential technologies and the impact on society and the workforce of the future.
The practical application of this is also seen in our Global Innovation Challenge, with students working towards solving the biggest issues facing humanity
“The practical application of this is also seen in our Global Innovation Challenge, with students working towards solving the biggest issues facing humanity,” says Michael Gernon, Chief Education Innovation Officer, GEMS Education.
Schools have no option anymore but to fully embrace technology and value-based curricula, says Dr Heena Rachh, Principal, Global Indian International School (GIIS) Abu Dhabi.
Blended curriculum schools like GIIS are imparting holistic learning that takes the best from global boards and combines with the most advanced teaching technologies and progressive philosophies, raising overall standards of schooling.
“Blended curriculum schools like GIIS are imparting holistic learning that takes the best from global boards and combines with the most advanced teaching technologies and progressive philosophies, raising overall standards of schooling.”
GIIS’ Global Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GCIE) adopts a holistic approach to science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics (STREAM) where students are engaged in workshops, activities and challenges throughout the year to encourage out-of-the-box ideas. Artificial intelligence (AI) is also embedded into the curriculum with students using Google Assistant and Siri to conduct research.
“Engaging in these integrated learning experiences promotes global mindedness, a redefined approach towards technology, and a yearning to learn and create,” explains Rachh.
Experts agree that creativity, critical thinking and reasoning are the skills most needed for success in the rapidly developing marketplace of ideas. However, none of this can be developed if great teachers aren’t in place. “Employing, training and retaining highly qualified teachers who are able to build authentic relationships with students is central to academic success, and fostering a climate and culture conductive to learning,” says Bruce E. Major, Superintendent, Collegiate American School.
Employing, training and retaining highly qualified teachers who are able to build authentic relationships with students is central to academic success, and fostering a climate and culture conductive to learning.
“When authentic relationships are achieved, teachers are best able to facilitate student-focused learning objectives based on the relevant interests and the strengths of their students.”
As well as getting youngsters acclimatised to the new order, there is an emphasis on personal development and global citizenship in the schoolroom as we humans increasingly migrate around the world.
Creating global citizens
In this vein, Delhi Private Schools (DPS) hold a highly inclusive ethos to help underpin effective care and support for its students. “Global citizenship is embedded in the curriculum of the schools through innovative life skills and value education programmes,” says Dinesh C. Kothari, Managing Director, Delhi Private Schools.
Global citizenship is embedded in the curriculum of the schools through innovative life skills and value education programmes.
“Social and environmental consciousness is a core value of the school. There is a strong focus on diverse extracurricular activities, including a highly competitive sports programme. The core principle of our schools’ vision is the understanding that a sound education is imperative to bring about positive changes in the world.”
Importance of academic rigour
A crucial term many must have heard but may not understand is academic rigour.
Rigour in teaching refers to the fine line between challenging and frustrating a student. It’s when pupils are challenged to think and perform at a level outside their comfort zone.
“Schools have a huge responsibility to ensure they are preparing children to be successful in their future roles in society,” explains David Williams, Head of EYFS and Key Stage 1, Regent International School (pictured right). “This can be achieved through administering the curriculum through a purposeful, engaging and rigorous method. We ensure there is a purpose behind all activities that the children engage with. This allows them to use skills that they have developed during the input of lessons and apply them to real-life situations.”
Bruce E. Major, Superintendent, Collegiate American School (pictured left), adds, “Rigour is a natural consequence for improving student achievement when both teachers and students are motivated for success. The result of fostering such a student-centred approach to teaching and learning is an environment that advances both the psychosocial needs of students, while at the same time promotes high expectations for success.”