“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
It’s been almost a century since American education reformer, John Dewey, spoke these words but they are truer today than they have ever been. The world is changing faster than ever and the skills that pupils need for success are very different compared to when their teachers and parents were in school. Defined as ‘21st century skills,’ attributes such as collaboration, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking are vital to the success of pupils in the future.
We no longer live in a world where we can build skills for specific jobs, as those jobs may not exist when our pupils become adults. Rather, we need to give our them the skills that will help them adapt to a changing world, enabling them to utilise their innate strengths and abilities in a wide variety of professional situations.
So, how can we prepare Grade 6 pupils for a changing world?
Preparing to work together
For starters, a curriculum based on building and implementing 21st century skills is vital for pupils in 2019. Collaboration, for example, has been a major focus in Grade 6 this school year. Group projects and house events are just some of the ways in which pupils can help build their teamwork skills. However, it is not simply the act of working together that is important, it is also about reflecting on the outcome of the group’s work. For example, in lessons, pupils should be able to evaluate what went well and what could be improved in order to make better attempts in the future.
Moreover, having diverse experiences with teamwork helps pupils to build these skills more effectively. For example, completing a group project in DT would be different from a group project in ESS, and working in a mixed-ability group would be different from working in a tracked group. Consequently, by having many different experiences, pupils will be better able to adapt to brand new experiences they face in the future.
Preparing to embrace new challenges
The ability to apply knowledge and skills to new situations is also vitally important for Grade 6 pupils’ future success. Lionel Messi’s football career is a model example of the ability to adapt to new situations. Growing up as a forward, he was asked by former coach Pep Guardiola to change positions to a ‘false 9,’ a position that previously didn’t exist and that Messi had never experienced. Despite his inexperience as a false 9, Messi flourished in the role because of the skills that he had developed that he could apply to this new position. Just as Messi adapted to his new role, we need to give pupils the experience and skills to flourish in future jobs; jobs that may not even exist yet.
Cross-curricular links: Building flexible learners
One way in which we can practise adaptation is through cross-curricular learning. Throughout Grade 6, teachers have been working closely together to integrate skills between classes. For example, in ESS, pupils have been working on their analytical skills, specifically the ability to compare and contrast information, a skill that is vitally important in IGCSE and IB. Recently, pupils have been taking what they have learned in ESS and applying it in their English classes by comparing and contrasting the novel and film versions of the same story, as well as characters from different stories. ICT is another class in which pupils are constantly taking what they have learned and adapting it to new situations. In a recent assignment, pupils were asked to combine skills and knowledge from art and design, English, and maths. Grade 6 pupils will also be participating in cross-curricular week during the last week of the school year, where they will discuss one topic from a diverse range of perspectives in all their lessons. The more practice pupils have in integrating prior knowledge and skills to new situations, the better they will be able to adapt to new situations in the future.
Preparing for the next step
Huili is not only about taking the best of Chinese and Western education, we aim to continually consider the educational realities of both the present and future. Hopefully, by developing the whole pupil in a holistic way, we can prepare them for success in the future, in both their professional and personal lives.