The second part of our changing face of education blog shines the spotlight on community expectations and the future of education. I hope you find this as interesting as part one, I certainly did!
All staff were very clear in acknowledging the need for parents, student and school to work in partnership with one another as the research clearly reflects better outcomes for students when this takes place. Having said this, there was a sense that expectations on schools have significantly changed over the last decade with much of the change being linked again to the access of information and the immediacy of that access. Mrs Brightwell summed this up “I think having SEQTA and access to emails, it’s fantastic because as a parent you can see everything your child is doing but it also makes the demand for information… a lot higher”. This was supported with general conversation around what schools are expected to cover in an already full curriculum with the core for teachers being student academic outcomes and student wellbeing.
The conversation moved to the perception that some parts of the community do not see teaching in the same way they see some other professions. This can be linked to the fact that society often lays many social ills at the feet of educational institutions and we see news reports about how schools should be teaching some of the life skills that in the past were taught at home. As Mr Ramsay said “as a teacher we try to do the best we can for all.” An interesting concept raised in our conversation centred around the notion that everyone has experienced “school” and each of our experience colours the way in which we view schools and education in general, sometimes that view is the reality and sometimes it is individual perceptions. One thing that everyone agreed on was the need to ensure that communities kept engaging with schools now and into the future.
Moving forward every staff member said that the one thing we can be sure of as educators is that change will continue. Mrs Brightwell hopes more practical programs, such as our Try-a-Trade, would become more permanent”; programs that give students more choice and voice in their learning, more student agency throughout their school journey.
Of course, the use of technology would continue to evolve and Mr Berry commented on the role of teacher, “I wonder if we are going to become more like facilitators”. Will the classroom of the future exist in what we think of the term “classroom”?
Mr Ramsay added that the classroom is one of the only rooms that has stayed relatively the same in its format over many years. “I know that we now have online classes, students as vloggers and virtual classrooms however, much of this is the exception not the norm, I’d like to see it happen faster.”
It was discussed that courses in areas such as entrepreneurship, creativity, sustainability and the like will become everyday lessons and regimented 8.30am to 3.30pm timetables will no longer exist. Flexibility and point of need for students will grow concurrently with the continued growth of educational compliance and regulations. “I think the compliance and legalities will increase more with some positives,” Mrs Brown said. Perhaps the word school might even be replaced with something else that reflects future changes.
The one thing that each staff member was clear to say was that learning was about relating to the world around. Children will still need to be clear about having a purpose and what it means to grow as a human being in the spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and psychological domains. Will that be in the way we deliver education today or will it be in a manner we haven’t thought about yet? Either way, the connection and relationship between one another is the core.
I hope you have enjoyed this two-part series on the changing face of education from some of our outstanding teachers at St Stephen’s School.
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”
Mrs Donella Beare