Students of the future

Ari&Flynn2.jpg Welcome to the world Ari and Flyn, twins born on Saturday 16 February at Wellington Public Hospital. These are my first grandchildren, and I was privileged to be able to be present within an hour of the birth to share in the delight of these two young lives as they adjusted to life outside the womb. My wife and three of our other children were also there – together with our daughter and her husband, the proud parents. It was one of those moments packed with emotions of all kinds, from the sheer exhaustion of the labour to the wonderings about what the world will be like for these two boys.

I did my own reflecting on the Monday following when I presented a keynote to the Western Bays cluster in Auckland. The topic was “Visioning The Future of Schooling”, and as I prepared for it i couldn’t help but think of the future time-line for Ari and Flynn:

2008 – born
2013 – start primary school
2021 – start secondary school
2023 – first year NCEA
2026 – leave school… further study?? employment??

It’s sobering to realise that the future isn’t that far away when you think of it like that. I remember at the turn of this century reading reports surmising the future in 2020, and what we need to be thinking of and doing in our schools to prepare students for that future – it all seemed such a long way ahead then!

Well, this is the very future Ari and Flynn will be walking into when they hit our secondary schools – so what progress are we making in achieving these goals?

Mason Durie, one of the Secondary Futures Guardians comments:

“We seldom have the opportunity to think long term about the future, because we are all locked into the urgency of the day. For many of us, the most we can think about is tomorrow… If you look far enough into the future, it’s possible that you might be able to anticipate the change and make the shift in direction before it is forced upon you.”

The NZ Secondary Futures project began in 2002 as “a broad-ranging discussion with New Zealanders about how secondary schooling can make more students more successful 20 years from now” – by my estimation that’ll be around the time Ari and Flynn are settling in to sit their first NCEA assessments. Somehow the future doesn’t seem so far off! So what should I expect for them? I’d be pretty pleased if they demonstrated the following:

  • Abounding in intellectual curiosity
  • Confidently using ICT to access and provide information and to communicate with others
  • Knowing when to lead, when to follow, and when and how to act independently.
  • Able to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.
  • Contributing appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

(You may recognise these from the NZ Curriculum) All of this in a world characterised by change and uncertainty. One thing is certain – these boys are a part of the generation who will live their lives in the sort of world alluded to in the video below – our challenge as educators is, “what are we doing to prepare them for it?”


4 thoughts on “Students of the future

  1. After 13 years of marriage and no children, we decided to try foster parenting / adoption. While going through the classes, I found out I was pregnant. It doesn’t help that his father is works in internet security but Caleb, at 15 months old, has his father’s genes – and more. We would want him to become a productive citizen, have moral and ethical and genuine character, be an individual with a “team player” attitude but realize the aspects of those characteristics that we want him to have may be played out in a far different realm than we (as his parents) currently imagine. Caleb’s first word, besides dada (of course ) was “Hoooo?” because he picked up the cordless phone – that and the cell phone are some of his favorite toys and we use them to quiet him down to change his diaper. He knows how (which is beyond my comprehension) to change the ring tones. Recently, he played with the “old school” rotary phone and he ditched it for the phone with the buttons. His second favorite toy, the TV remote control – he knows which button changes the channels and can change the volume. His first favorite “toy” is the computer – specifically the mouse, which he moves with ease. He is still getting the hang of the buttons and if we had a Mac, he would do great. He’s FIFTEEN MONTHS OLD?!? Look out world – how do I (as a technological immigrant) prepare HIM for a technological world?!?

  2. Crumbs, I’ve been a bit slow here, either that or life is moving at such a rapid pace.

    Congratulations indeed to you and all the family. How wonderful for you all. They look absolutely perfect and beautiful.

    Wishing you all the best from the UK.

  3. how wonderful and you so young to be a grandad Derek. They are beautiful babies. Can I see the wenmouth nose? Nah not sure….Isn’t that what everyone looks for?

    I have every confidence their world will be an exciting and challenging one with lots of connectivity. Role on solar power…to keep the human race connected.

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