Most Likely To Succeed

‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel’ - Socrates

What is the purpose of education?  Surely it should be about preparing our children for the world they are about to inherit? Certainly, many students leave school, college and university with a string of ‘impressive’ qualifications, but many do not. Either way, this doesn’t mean they are fully prepared for the world, whether it be finding a job or, as may soon be the case, finding a way to live in a world where robots do the jobs.

Here are some noteworthy stats to consider:

  • 53% of recent college graduates are under or unemployed
  • 45% of recent college graduates are still living with their parents
  • 65% of today’s grade-school children will end up in jobs that haven’t been invented yet
  • Millennials will have 15-20 jobs over the course of their working lives
  • The World Economic Forum reports that creativity will become one of the top three skills in demand by 2020
  • Emotional Intelligence, never before in the top 10, will become the sixth most in-demand skill by 2020

I agree with Socrates: “tell and repeat” teaching is not enough. We need to help children learn how to learn, get excited, fail but keep trying and realize they can make a difference to their lives. What I see and experience in schools is a great deal of dedicated hard work, commitment and care, but it is within a system that leaves little room for creativity and the teaching of resilience which I believe are two key ingredients of education. There are, of course, some schools and teachers managing this but their work is against the grain of the system.

I recently went to see a screening of Most Likely to Succeed (directed by Greg Whiteley) which recognizes the need to change and “aims to help schools re-image their purpose and create learning experiences that prepare kids for life”. The main message of the film is that children of all ages like and want to learn through work that is relevant, meaningful and hands on.  I was inspired by the viewing and loved seeing the students of High Tech High using project based learning as a tool which allowed them to choose what they would work on, work in teams, fail but try again – and all with a deadline of having to present their experiences and learnings to their fellow, students, staff, parents and community.

Two people who have rightly been banging-on for quite some time about the need for creativity in schools are Ken Robinson – no apologies for recommending again his famed 2006 TED talk  Schools Kill Creativity – and Seth Godin, whose manifesto Stop Killing Dreams is well worth reading.  Also, newly out in paperback, is Angela Duckworth’s fascinating, rigorous and practical GRIT – why passion and resilience are the secrets to success.

Let’s keep weaving creativity and resilience into our work with children (and adults too). Keep discussing and campaigning, wherever and whenever we can, to change the education system. We owe it to the future of our children.