Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. – Albert Einstein
In more ways than ever, our academic institutions ought to focus on reframing the mindsets of our children by equipping them with the necessary tools to be able to respond to the fast-paced, complex, and multi-dimensional challenges of today’s society.
It is critical for us to ask ourselves how we should prepare young people for such a demanding life. What kind of educational experiences should they receive?
We need to create a new learning paradigm to groom our children and young people to become leaders with ethics, who focus on making the world a better place for everyone to live in.
As such, we should dwell upon reframing their educational philosophy, in particular, with these as the main components:
It has to be holistic, meaning that it should understand and successfully combine the academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual.
It should be meaningful, refering to it being in line with principles and values, alongside personal and professional goals. In addition, it must be meaningful in relation to a student’s dreams, strengths, desires and talents.
It needs to be harmonious, in relation to the idea that all the human dimensions must be in harmony. In other words, emotions, intelligence, and intellect must be integrated in harmony.
Its ethos, refers to its essence and integrity focus. It is about following one’s conscience and doing what is considered right.
Their learning must be of relevance to daily life, and relate to the needs of the community. Such a curriculum should comprise four critical premises
● Skills: acquiring new capacity and mastering existing skills that are relevant to and essentially needed to successful living in the 21st century;
● Critical Thinking: developing informed decision-making competencies in order to address current and future problems and challenges;
● Relevance: relating competencies to the learner’s environment; and
● Inspiration: expressing the understanding of complex concepts in a unique and authentic way.
We have to ask ourselves what relevance the things we are teaching our young people would have to their daily lives to their future. For example, one question I ask when I start any new topic for my students is, “Why do we need to know this? Is it really necessary and applicable in real life? Why was this deemed important enough to be included in our curriculum?” This question pushes me as an educator to think about what’s relevant to today’s educational needs of my students. It also makes the students sit up to realise that these aren’t abstract concepts that we are working on but ideas that make sense. It is a question designed to make us stop to think about why we teach what we do. We need to ask incisive questions to provoke this type of thinking in education. One of the questions that must be asked every day is, “What is best for each learner?”
One person from who I learnt a lot about this was an English teacher in a remarkable school that I taught in, in the South Bronx. She constantly pushed her students to explore their boundaries of understanding, through various methods. She also encouraged her colleagues to do the same with their students, to view them as fellow explorers of life and its challenges. She recorded some of their presentations and shared them with us for our honest feedback; and this was back in 2003, before social media exploded. I gleaned so much from her classes.
It was the idea of creating a townsquare with her students, and ensuring that their input was felt in their learning, that really revolutionised the students’ learning. It was innovative and the potential for growth on the part of both the students and staff was enormous. I can proudly call that as the happiest time, mentally, for me as a teacher. I was constantly trying out new ideas. We shared what worked and borrowed ideas from one other.
We desire for our children (our students) to develop while achieving academic success, personal growth and responsibility to their communities and the globe in general. They should be able to positively influence others in the local community towards this too.
Our hope is for educational institutions to become the catalysts for transforming the educational trajectory in the communities they serve, as well as the nation, their continent and the world.
Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.