Technology is not a magic wand that will solve all the problems of secondary education, according to Simon Lamb, headmaster of King’s College in South Auckland.
Instead, students need to be prepared for an uncertain world where change is a constant.
Lamb, who took over the helm of King’s in 2016, says all secondary schools are responding to dramatic changes in the workforce, modes of study and the way we live.
“Technology is interrupting the way employment will appear for our students,” he says. “There’s no question of the impact it is having on student learning, but we also hope it can extend learning opportunities.”
Lamb says the use of ICT is a vital part of learning at King’s – showing students what the possibilities are, using the advantages of technology, but also teaching them how to manage the disadvantages: “Technology is not in itself a panacea for education and will not solve all the problems.”
As well as the technical knowledge gained through ICT, ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration, innovative thinking and adaptability will stand students in good stead once they leave the college.
“There is no getting away from the fact that students need a core base of academic knowledge to be well-prepared for the world after secondary school-but they also need a set of other skills to thrive in that future.
“We need to teach them, for example, what to do when they don’t know what the next step is or if they are unsure of what to do. That’s really important.
“For example, when a teacher is working on an algebra problem and comes across an issue in solving it, they can demonstrate strategies for coping with the problem. Young people are often osmotic learners, so they learn through seeing how the teachers react and respond to their own difficulties and challenges,” Lamb says.
“It’s also important for them to work on collaborative projects so they can learn to be accepting of each other’s differences and work together. That capacity to learn from each other can really be extended by something like Google Drive, and it’s a measurable way to enable teaching and learning behaviour.”
Those skills cut across all subjects and disciplines and can be passed on through classroom interaction as well as in other activities, he says. The school’s philosophy of providing an all-round education means all students have to participate in sports, cultural activities and house activities.
King’s original founding philosophy from 1896 – providing ‘the best all-round education it is possible to obtain’ – remains relevant today despite it being a very different world. Students with a broad base are well equipped for the fast-paced change of the modern world.
The concept of an all-round education is at the centre of the school’s teaching and learning philosophy, which covers eight key dimensions: learning, internationalism, democracy, environment, adventure, leadership, service and spirituality.
The eight dimensions help to define and measure specific skills so they can be fully learned and understood by students and so staff can demonstrate that set of skills through teaching behaviours.
Lamb says the school needs to think constantly about what the future might look like for its students and therefore what skills might be required: “The skills of being able to express yourself articulately on paper and verbally will remain but the way we communicate is going to change, including other methods and modes,” he says.
“Our job is to teach skills that can assist our students in the future, giving them not only the hard knowledge to succeed independently but the soft skills as well – the sense of involvement in community, the ability to be intuitive and collaborative – so they can make the most of the opportunities presented to them.”
Source: NZ Herald