Robin Booth
Robin Booth

Schools of our Future: What skills are needed?

Where does traditional schooling fail the requirements of modern developed society.

A modern society is differentiated by it’s dependence on being inter-dependent on each and every other thing. Therefore the core needs of this society shift from external measurement of products and success to internal human values of discerning thinking, community, empowerment and team work.  Traditional schools are still functions of an industrial era where it is believed that the core static academic skills are the most important. A modern society no longer needs people who can just read and write: we need critical thinkers who know how to make value based decisions, work with vision and self discipline.  Traditional schooling is authoritarian and dogmatic. It creates dependent people who are apathetic, complacent and don’t think for themselves (because they are never really asked what they actually think. They are only asked what they think about a poem, or about a book. But ask them what they think about the world, or what they really want to learn about and that is another education entirely)

What will be the core attributes of the “school of the future”? How does it differ from Waldorf, Montessori etc

A modern society sees its people as its bigger resource. Yet traditional schooling sees its curriculum and physical resources as the biggest resources. Traditional schooling has constantly proven that there is little or no correlation between success in school and success in life. Success in life (however anyone defines success), has more to do with personality, attitude, and an internal value system. Therefore a school of the future will prioritise and emphasise the development of people. And instead of just developing them as individuals, there will be a greater emphasis on developing them as individuals in relationship to others. Therefore subjects will be less on static skills but more on effective communication skills, relationships skills, critical thinking and emotional intelligence. And these can still be done while teaching them the normal skills of reading, writing, maths etc.

Waldorf and Montessori are just a few of the schooling systems that attempt to make a difference. In each and every school system out there, it is the actual teacher that makes a difference, not the system or the approach. Synergy Schooling focuses on the teacher and developing them into dynamic and empowered people. As such, no matter what they do, or where they teach, they will be able to consciously unlock and nurture the potential of each and every learner in what every way might be needed. Therefore these learners become inspired and empowered as a natural process opposed to it being a modular theory based curricula add-on.

Imagine teachers also skilled and trained as competent Life Coaches.

Most teachers will also agree that one of the greatest challenges of teaching any formal academic work is the management of attitudes, resistance and conflict. More often than not, in order to cover the work they have to, they become authoritarian and maintain ‘order’ opposed to supporting cohesion and cooperation. The belittling and undermining of children is common place in every school. And the only reason this is the case is that these teachers have no other skills sets or competencies to achieve otherwise. But they are nearly all aware that something has to change.

Being a competent Life Coach (and Teacher) in a school is the same as being an outstanding teacher. We all know that the great teachers we had did one thing in common. They ignited something in us that made us believe in ourselves to some degree. They respected us in some way that made us have hope and see ourselves as competent. And at Synergy School we have proved that we can create these fantastic teachers opposed to just hope to employ the right one.

So in our school context, a teacher who is also a competent coach, is someone who can actually get to the great academic work because they know how to support children in believing in themselves such that the learners challenge themselves, take responsibility for their own learning, feel empowered to make a difference to themselves and to the class, who co-construct a supportive environment for themselves and for their peers, where they re-define themselves as competent and able (where in most schools children are often told and shown they are incompetent and unable). In this environment, the learning that happens is therefore academic, emotional and humane. It becomes relevant and authentic. The teacher becomes a facilitator opposed to a formal teacher and she is not only facilitating academic learning but shaping and moulding and defining these learners as people.

We are not surprised therefore that what can take up to three weeks in a traditional school to learn can take place in a morning with us. When children are valued as part of the learning process as a core belief, then they are open to taking on challenges, and to challenging themselves.

This is what we mean by “Living and Learning Together”.

www.synergyschool.co.za

www.robinbooth.co.za