People make a lot of assumptions about education: lessons should last for about an hour. Mobile phones should be switched off during school. Pupils should learn in classrooms. And, fundamentally, pupils come to school to learn, and teachers come to school to teach.
These assumptions are so common, because they match the way that most of us were educated But this version of education was designed in and for a very different time, and there’s no reason to assume that it will meet the needs of today’s learners. Both collectively and individually we are heading for an uncertain future. The world is changing at a rapid rate. Technology has made things possible that people couldn’t have dreamed of 100, 50 or even 25 years ago. It has transformed our relationship to information and to each other. Today we can find out something instantly that it used to take weeks, months or even years to find out. People thousands of miles away from each other can connect as if they were in the same room. This world offers a great deal of opportunity but it also presents challenges.
In response to the challenges we face in the digital age, schools are starting to do education differently. Why restrict lesson times to an hour when half-day sessions allow pupils to delve really deeply into subject material? Many young people have smart phones, so why not allow them to be used as learning aids? Adults learn in the real world, why not let pupils? And, fundamentally, the best teachers are people who love learning, and the best way to make sure that you understand what you are learning is to teach.
The schools that are taking this seriously are still in the minority. But across the world there is a growing global movement towards achieving the vision of 21st century education. Check out our new publications to learn more about what this looks like in practice and how it can be achieved.