By Deniz Kadri
After having the opportunity to attend the Virgin Media event “Disruptors – The future of education” my perspective on this has changed massively. After listening to all the speakers throughout the day I must say that I agree with most of what discussed but not all. In my opinion, in today’s society, it is most definitely not enough to learn or be taught solely from a text book and within a classroom environment, which seemed to be the reoccurring statement of the day.
I think this is especially true for young adults in secondary school onwards. Moving from each level of education seems to be extremely fragmented and disjointed i.e.: from primary school, to secondary school, to higher education etc. The transition needs to be made smoother and children today should be taught the long life skills that will be beneficial when transitioning from higher education to the work place. As Richard Branson said “instead of putting people in boxes, education should inspire people”.
One of the most important things today is confidence – how to present yourself and presenting in front of an audience. I believe once this confidence is built I believe that they can use this when networking which is another very important and necessary skill. Proof of this was the two year 9 students that were brave enough to sit in front an audience and interview Richard Branson himself. Nowadays it seems to me that the most amazing opportunities are given to those that put themselves out there and make themselves known to employers and show employers. Some things taught in secondary school such as algebra, in my opinion, are a waste of time. Of course the foundation of mathematics is very important but I ask myself does anyone actually use algebra in their day-to-day lives or at work?! We need to teach students life skills not just how to pass their exams!
In addition, many of the speakers spoke about the importance of implementing creativity as a method of teaching. When I think of creativity in a teaching sense, I think of things such as painting, drawing, acting, watching videos and more but I felt that the meaning of ‘creativity’ was used loosely throughout the day and the meaning was ambiguous and confusing. The speakers found it difficult to justify this statement on a number of occasions when they were asked by the audience “HOW can we implement creativity as a method of teaching?” this was something that everyone in the audience was keen to know but unfortunately we still await a solid answer…
Moving onto technology... as we all know education has evolved hugely, especially as we are trying to keep up with the fast paced technological advancements we are continuously introduced to. We need an innovated education system to match the technology we have available to us today. However, I am not sure technology is the answer. The robots that were used to teach young children for example were extremely fascinating to me and it seemed the children shown to us in the video clips were very intrigued too.
But I ask myself, can these machines take over human teaching? And I believe the answer is no. The robots are a very good for perhaps keeping young children engaged in nurseries for example and especially those that may having learning difficulties but I believe the children would very quickly outgrow these machines. In addition, it would be impossible for these robots to replace the complexity of a human. For example how would this robot determine whether individuals were misbehaving or not paying attention? The robots could never be programmed to be capable of answering absolutely any question that an individual would have but on the other hand who knows what life will be like in a 100 years to come! I guess I am solely basing my opinion on what we are exposed to in today’s society.
Lastly, as a bilingual individual I was very disappointed to hear Richard Branson views on teaching languages in school. Research has shown that exposure to different languages is beneficial for a child’s development. They become more aware of different cultures, other people and other points of view. Bringing very young children into contact with foreign languages may result in faster language learning as well as improved mother tongue skills. I think teaching students can be very beneficial as they may become aware of their passion for learning a language and continue this up until the go out into the working world. If you were an employer and you had two applicants that were nearly identical in qualifications but one individual had a foreign language and the other didn’t, who would you choose? Organisations are becoming more and more globalised and a language would give you better prospects and a competitive advantage.
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