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Creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, communication. In an age where factual knowledge is available at the click of a button, these are the skills that will be most valuable to our children and to society.
A more holistic approach to education has the power to improve these skills. Rather than churning through times tables or endless homework, teaching children how to problem-solve and to apply their imaginations will enable them to find solutions to a much wider array of issues and help them to prepare for life.
While literacy and numeracy are essential, the false division of disciplines removes their meaning from our lived social world. How can we truly learn about scientific progress without learning of its implications in wider society?
We are all aware that smaller classes are better and this should remain one of the key aims of any education system. Even where this is not possible, subjects should be taught in a collaborative manner, rather than with children as passive recipients of ‘knowledge’. This approach allows children who may not be good at core subjects to identify their own strengths, lending confidence and motivation.
All students must feel included. Early interventions are the best chance for children to absorb the notion that they can be an active, positive part of their society. There are many basic steps we can take to ensure a more even playing field in schools. One project in Edinburgh includes the following: flexibility over aspects like school uniform, provision of assumed ‘basics’ like stationary for those without them, and staff sensitivity to elements related to child poverty within schools.
A forward-looking education should consider these approaches to be essential in preparing our children for the challenges of the 21st century, which do not just relate to being active problem-solvers in the world of business, but will be useful to tackle major social and environmental challenges such as climate change, inequality, and health and wellbeing.