Our education systems are increasingly out of step with the our globalised, technology driven, information rich, networked world.
As Ken Robinson famously describes in this RSA Animate, our “factory school” approach to education, with kids pushed along a production line and date stamped at the end, was designed for an industrial age .
Obsession with grades, assessment and exams damages the mental health of both teachers and students.
This rigid system kills motivation and our natural ability to be creative.
This factory system isn’t just bad for us as human beings, it doesn’t meet the needs of the economy.
“We’re not training up enough engineers to fill the jobs that we have today, let alone the jobs we’ll need in fifty years’ time.” says Dyson founder, Sir James Dyson. “It has been estimated that Britain will need 640,000 extra engineering minds by 2020.”
There are skills gaps across Europe while youth unemployment remains high.
Young people struggle to get the experience that will get them in the door. “We spend £5 billion a year” to support employment and skills “and yet the system is not working effectively in connecting individuals to work” (NESTA, 2012)
Our system is broken. We teach our kids the wrong things in the wrong way.
So how can we work differently?
Instead of a narrow academic curriculum with separate subjects, we need project learning, creativity and real world challenges.
Instead of a focus on individual assessment, we need to encourage collaboration, innovation, team work and leadership.
Instead of each school providing a child’s entire education under one roof, we need collaboration between education institutions, the community and employers to provide a range of experiences.
New models are being developed. I was inspired by a recent visit to the Space Studio in West London where students learn through enterprise projects and teachers are coaches rather then oracles.
But some worry that studio schools and University Technical Colleges might replicate a narrow focus on academic subjects with an equally narrow focus on science and engineering. What place for a broad cultural education and for expressing creativity through art, drama and music?
At the Brixton Impact Hub we have been working through a powerful change and leadership programme called U:Lab. The process helps us to connect with the whole system, sense what is really going on, find the opportunities to create a shift and develop rapid prototypes to test.
We want to take what we have learnt from this Massive On-line Open Course with Otto Sharmer and 40,000 change makers from around the world and apply it to key themes in Lambeth.
Education is one of our first areas.
If you are passionate about education in Lambeth, think it needs to change and would like to be involved, please get in touch.