Right now, the world doesn’t just need the next set of great leaders, it needs the next generation of great changemakers. We have learned in the last twelve months that change is constant, exhausting and accelerating. We have to educate for change.
I am an enthusiastic signatory of this recent letter to the Times about the urgent need for reform in education. Along with Rose Luckin, Priya Lakhani OBE, Robert Halfon MP, David Davies MP, Sir Anthony Seldon and others, we assert that the industrial model of education is no longer fit for purpose in its current form.
In his last major speech before his untimely death this summer, Sir Ken Robinson shared that, right now, an organic, almost pre-industrialised model of education is the one that will best serve both our children and young people, as well as the educators who work with them: an education system that focuses on learning culture and the nurturing of individual skills, knowledge, talents, interests and dispositions rather than being a factory of standardised knowledge.
Post-industrial education has to fit in with a vision for a sustainable dynamic world. We must educate our children about climate change but also nurture the skills and mindset to reverse the damage to our environment caused by industrialisation. More focus than ever is needed on how to sustain and repair both the planet and its people. Likewise, we need to rethink how we educate and ‘grow’ our children, especially as we come through and beyond Covid-19. This transformed and transformative approach requires a generation of well, well-informed and well-connected school leaders equipped to work with those young people.
I was pleased to see action from environmental education charity, the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK who are offering a significant professional development course on sustainable education open to teachers across the world starting 27th January.
The live-video course over four half-termly sessions builds a community of teachers, ready for an early school leadership role, focused on sustaining their school community, themselves and the planet. Just what we need them to be thinking about if we are to make progress in not just rebuilding, but repairing and re-growing a more sustainable and fit-for-purpose education eco-system. The four themes are:
Sustainable self: teacher and pupil burn-out is itself a creeping pandemic that we need to address urgently.
Sustainable curriculum: young people are already demanding their right to learn about and take action on the climate crisis.
Sustainable community: schools have already demonstrated their pivotal role in sustaining their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sustainable planet: Eden’s co-founder, Sir Tim Smit challenged all of us to ‘Ask not what kind of planet we are leaving our children, but what kind of children we are leaving our planet.’
These are four elements of an education eco-system that is sustainably fit for purpose for the impending changes in our economy and society ahead.