March 26

A brave new world?

During the lockdown we have probably all discovered a lot more about ourselves, our families and our ways of working. So far (and in no particular order) working from home has reminded me that:

  • The shoulders and neck can really ache from staring at a laptop for long periods
  • We have to do something for spontaneous conversations to happen
  • The sunshine is usually only a few steps away

But how will all this change us? Which changes will persist after the pandemic is gone? Although it is too early to be sure, I think our use of technology will change things in teaching and learning. Some believe that the seeds of the future of schooling are being sewn right now.

Hopefully, education systems will not start to focus only on things which can be delivered electronically. Some things are difficult to achieve remotely and these are some of the most valuable human skills. For example, in Drama, Music, Dance and PE lessons, students develop the ability to pick up and respond to the tiniest cues from others around them. Learning about these conscious and unconscious cues gives our young people a strong sense of interpersonal awareness that will help them for the rest of their lives to work and play more effectively with others and to have a keener sense of empathy and emotional intelligence.

It has been a real joy to see that, in lockdown, young people across the world have been exploring new interests and learning beyond a formal curriculum. In more normal times, our clubs and societies programmes provide for this and I look forward to seeing them do so again within a more social setting soon.

For most of us, life in the UK had been getting gradually better for decades, but we already knew that the cost to the climate of all this was enough to change all our lives. Maybe schooling was already due to change. Schools are designed to enable young people to develop the skills and knowledge to make them economically productive. But in response to climate change, some were already reconsidering the meaning of economic growth and, consequently, what schools should be preparing young people for.

Climate change and the pandemic have shown us that young people who go on to shape the future will need to be able to imagine change; to invent solutions; to create new ways of doing things. Schools that are focused on blending creative and interdisciplinary skills will be best placed to prepare people to make an effective contribution to the world in the next decades. Strength in traditional academic subject disciplines alone will not be enough for schools who prepare young people well for success in the middle of this century.

Blackheath High School has always believed in success in more than just traditional subjects. We will continue to think about our curriculum - and the multitude of things we offer beyond academic lessons - to make sure we continue to prepare our young people best to shape their world and to contribute to solving some of the world's current - and next - giant challenges.

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