An avalanche is coming


I'm currently attending the CoSN conference in San Diego, which has the theme of 'audacious leadership'. The opening plenary featured Lord David Puttnam and Punya Mishra, discussing the issue of the changes being experienced in education (and elsewhere) in the 21st century. 

Hearing them speak raises themes familiar in much of the literature, forums and online discussion regarding change and leadership in 21st century education. In particular is the issue of the value vs cost of education, and the argument about whether we can work within the current system (and funding) to achieve change, or whether we need to commit more resources to achieving this. 

This issue is discussed in a recent publication titled An Avalanche is Coming which features a quote from Lord Puttnam on the cover. The main question addressed in this paper is whether a university education is a good preparation for working life and citizenship in the 21st century or, more precisely, whether it will continue to be seen as good value, given the remorseless rise in the cost of a university education over recent decades.

While the focus of the report is on tertiary education, there is much in this analysis that is relevant to the compulsory school sector also, since the issue of working within the broader context of the global economy is relevant to and impacts on all areas of education. A key point in the report for me is the section addressing the issue that the cost of [higher] education is increasing faster than inflation – conclusion, we can't keep on doing what we've always done, we need new models, new approaches, new thinking. 

In all of the talk about change, and leadership for change we can't ignore that there is a cost involved in providing a high quality educaiton – the cost of resources (physical and virtual), the cost to teachers, the cost of professional development, the cost of technology etc. etc. What is evident from this report is that we cannot continue to expect greater and greater investment in the current models of education – we need to invent very different models that can be sustained into the future, while ensuring the quality outcomes continue to be achieved. 

One thought on “An avalanche is coming

  1. OK, simple – reinvent the concept of 'education'. I'll offer a regular question: "How much of secondary Mathematics is actually used outside the school gate?" When did curriculum planners actually look at 'education' as opposed to 'schooling' and do the thinking that is urgently needed?

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