Why do we educate our children? Is the why being lost in the how?
By Michael Anderson
How do we measure success in education? At the moment, and for a fair while, we have measured success through a benchmark score, standardised testing and a system that often pits individuals against one another and schools against schools. The result is less like comparing apples with oranges, and more like a system to rank the relative worth of a fingerprint. While fingerprints are useful they don’t tell us all there is to know about ourselves. And our modern testing regimes certainly don’t tell us all we need to know about student progression and what’s working in schools, universities and other organizations.
As an education researcher and university teacher I often find myself in discussions with teachers and school leaders about how we might reimagine our schools to embed deeper learning. A few weeks ago, I found myself in a school talking about the capacity for the 4Cs – creativity, collaboration, communication and critical reflection – to fundamentally transform not only schools, but the way we view learning in many contexts.
AARE: Our schools need to take a mighty leap into the future: let’s dump outmoded practices and mindsets
By Michael Anderson and Miranda Jefferson
On October 5th 1979 stuntman Kenny Powers attempted to jump his rocket powered Lincoln Continental car from Canada to the USA across the St Lawrence River; a jump of 1.6 kilometres. The preparation took more than four years; it was costly (more than one million dollars), methodical and exacting. When the day finally came for the jump the car flew about fifteen metres and plunged into the river seriously injuring the stuntman. In the end, no matter how careful the preparation of the equipment or how experienced the team or highly trained the stuntman they fell woefully short.
Fast-forward to today and our schools face a similar jump. We have spent years preparing ourselves, training, restructuring, ‘harmonising’, recruiting and developing our people. However we currently don’t have the capacity to make the jump from old ways of thinking and doing in schools, to approaches that are going to help us jump the gap from rhetoric in policy to the realities of teaching in an uncertain world. We have lots to say in our policies about creativity, innovation, effective and authentic collaboration, perceptive critical reflection and incisive communication, but in schools our teachers face complex problems, fixed mindsets and outmoded practices.
In the University of Sydney’s recently released report Preparing for the Best and the Worst of Times we discuss the complexities created for our schools from the rapid rise of Artificial Intelligence and the need for a focus on what we call ‘learning dispositions’ to respond effectively to that challenge. As we see it, Australian schools have the resources they need in energy, hope and compassion but they lack the structures and processes to make the jump.
This year's kindergarten students will face a different world when they graduate
About 70,000 students will start kindergarten in NSW this week, part of a nationwide cohort of more than 300,000 children.
By 2031 most of them will pop out the other end of the education system into a world with widespread autonomous transport, artificial intelligence embedded in most things, healthcare that will make present approaches look medieval, and radically changed ways of working, doing business and being a citizen.
Teachers Must Disrupt The Classroom In The Automation Age
Machines don't care about making society flourish, but teachers do.
Recently, I attended a discussion on the future of education where the answer was more technology. All we need is to develop an app or online course -- and that will solve the problem. Unfortunately, that completely misses the point. While the way we interact with technology will be critical, the transformation of education is going to be so much harder than a 'machine fix'.
The transformation of schools will depend on how successfully we can build capacity to create, communicate, collaborate -- and think better -- to make human society flourish rather than decline. Machines do not know or care about that at the moment and potentially never can.
And that for me is where teachers, not technology, are the ultimate disruptors. Science Fiction writer Arthur C Clarke said almost 40 years ago that if teachers could be replaced by machines, they should. In Japan and Korea robots have already been used in a number language lessons. But there are certain changes that only teachers can bring to a schooling system badly in need of transformation.
We need a schooling system that moves beyond an obsession with testing static knowledge to making schools places where knowledge can be applied flexibly to intractable problems.
Future Frontiers Analytical Report: Preparing for the best and worst of times
The NSW Department of Education challenged a consortium of University of Sydney academics to consider the important question of what today’s kindergarteners will need to thrive and not just survive in the 21st century. The Department is particularly interested in the predicted changes technologies could bring to Australia’s economy, workplace and community. This report, which integrates insights from scholars in faculties as diverse as engineering and medicine, business potentially relevant issues; rather, it explores some of the challenges and opportunities around these emerging technologies and what this might mean for education, particularly school education.
Professor John Buchanan, Dr Rose Ryan, Professor Michael Anderson, Professor Rafael Calvo, Professor Nick Glozier, Dr Sandra Peter
Forget the 3Rs: modern schools need to embrace the 4Cs
Innovation in how learning generates creativity in their students. Innovation that re-imagines learning as evermore engaging and challenging.
Imagine a school where the students have the agency to know how to learn. Where students have the curiosity and confidence to engage with the world as active citizens in small and big ways.
This is what we call 4C schools, and these schools exist. The 4Cs are creativity, critical reflection, collaboration and communication. In their classrooms and staffrooms, 4C schools are transforming learning and teaching through this quartet. But in these schools it takes will, energy, inquiry, courage and determination.
The 4C evolution is only just beginning in certain schools but it is always characterised by a climate of re-invigoration, excitement, challenge, difficulty, uncertainty and possibility.
Professor Anderson addressed “the elephant in the classroom”: the lack of creativity in many standard practices in the current education system. He argued that focus on meeting narrow assessment criteria – a model developed in the nineteenth century – meant today’s students were not being given the necessary skills to deal with the twenty-first century. His suggestion was that creativity needed to be added to the existing “basics” of education, so that the new core curriculum would feature literacy, numeracy, and creativity.
Professor Anderson offered two reasons for this change in approach. First, rapid technological advances mean that computers and robots can increasingly handle mechanical tasks (from product assembly to data location and matching). Human workers need to have the skills to work WITH the resultant products and data to add value to the modern workflow. Secondly, the huge challenges facing the world today – climate change, poverty, warfare, food scarcity – cannot be solved without new and innovative strategies. (As Albert Einstein said, “problems cannot be solved using the same thinking that created them.”) Educating for creativity is vital to the survival of the planet, not just the human race.
TER #090 - Transforming Schools with Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson talks about the 'Four Cs' of Education and how they can be used to transform schools, and return focus to learning as the centre of curriculum.