http://dunamis-woman.com/wishlist/ For centuries educators and philosophers have attempted to define the moral purpose of education. Arguably the most successful are those who have led us not merely to debate the higher meaning of education (we could do this forever without coming to any conclusions!) but rather to assess whether or not education is achieving its higher purpose through the effect – positive or negative – that it has on our children’s lives.
As far back as the sixteen century, the French essayist Michel de Montaigne wrote that the purpose of education was not to teach children to learn and recite facts but to help them develop sound judgment and wisdom to use throughout life*.
Four and a half centuries later most schools and school systems around the world have still not appreciated or acted upon Montaigne’s advice. Sadly, in most school systems and curricula, the focus is still placed on learning and reciting facts and formulae for tests and examinations. This has some merit, of course, but is not good enough for the times in which we live.
bayer low dose 81 mg aspirin regimen tablets Examination results are useful for universities and employers to use in their selection processes, but they are not sufficient to prepare our children for jobs that do not yet exist or or to help them live with the profound implications of scientific developments and especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will change all our lives sooner than we think.
What is the difference between educational ‘impacts’ and educational ‘outputs’?
The good news is that some schools are just beginning to understand that a fundamental purpose of education is to move from a focus on what are called educational outputs (examination results) to what are called educational impacts (the positive effects that school has on children that will serve them throughout life). Remember, this is exactly what Montaigne wrote about 450 years ago!
The reason why it is essential for schools change emphasis from outputs to impacts is that if we do not know what the future holds for our children, then it cannot be adequate – or moral – to teach them only the knowledge and skills that we understand and use today. Instead, it is necessary for schools to help children develop the key attributes and skills that will enable them to be successful whatever life my bring. These key attributes and skills include the following:
· Conceptual thinking: the ability to understand the ‘big picture’ not just to learn facts;
· Critical thinking: the ability to analyze, evaluate, and make decisions upon the available information (this is what Montaigne calls “wisdom”);
· Creative thinking: the ability to take existing knowledge and develop it further to make products or ideas that are new and useful;
· Adaptive thinking: the ability to change and develop our ways of thinking throughout life as circumstances change (including changes in science and technology);
· Resilience: the ability to overcome life’s difficulties.
These are called ‘key attributes’ because they will always be needed. It is the responsibility of schools and parents to ensure that children acquire them. We cannot wait another four centuries.
Based on the above, here are two vital questions specifically for parents:
1. How do I know if my child’s school is moving from educational outputs to impacts?
2. How can I understand the attributes listed above and help my child develop them?
I will try to answer these questions over the next series of posts, commencing May 14th.
Next time: Why is it important for children to learn at a conceptual level, and not just remember facts?
*Michel de Montaigne lived in France from 1533 to 1592. He was the first person to write “essays”. His essay “Of the Education of Children” was very forward-looking, and we still have much to learn from it. You can find it online.