Redefining Education in a Changing World

Change is upon us – Let’s embrace it

Our society is changing at an ever accelerating pace, with the internet transforming the way we share knowledge, social media transforming the way we interact, new technologies transforming the way we produce, new forms of economy impacting the way we exchange goods and services, and the ever evolving practices and discoveries of professionals in every field constantly redefining the way forward and our very understanding of the world we live in.

This societal change has lead economists at the University of Oxford to predict that half of all existing jobs will disappear within the next 20 years. A forecast such as this inevitably leads to wondering at the possible effects on society. What will the new economy look like? What will happen to the many traditions, and historical crafts and businesses that still have tremendous value and relevance? One of our greatest challenges will be to learn to discriminate between what is relevant and what is not! These times are full of opportunity and will require us to navigate the unpredictable.

A growing number of individuals and organizations are beginning to see this and to realise the true importance of better communication, creativity, cooperation and flexibility. They are reinventing how they relate to each other and make decisions, in structures which are more horizontal, democratic and humane but also more reactive and adaptable. Sudbury School Paris is one such organization.

A different environment requires a different sort of learning

How can we prepare our young people to thrive in this ever-changing and uncertain world? Really, what this calls for is a change in our educational paradigm. The global experts from the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) predict that by 2030 the traditional ‘curriculum’ will have been replaced by ‘personalized learning paths’ and that adults will work more as ‘facilitators’ than ‘knowledge-givers’, and research has highlighted time and again the need for a learning model based around questioning and project-based learning with more relevance to the real world. Sudbury School Paris is already a step ahead in this trend.

Our school creates a safe and stimulating space for students to engage in their own personal learning quests. We are all born with the qualities needed for scientific research, and in giving free rein to children’s natural curiosity and love of learning we can help them achieve their full potential. It is through this process that students will develop the essential transferable skills for adult life in the 21st century.

Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel⁽¹⁾ grouped these “21st century skills” into three main areas:

  • Learning and innovation skills: critical thinking and problem solving, communications and collaboration, creativity and innovation
  • Digital literacy skills: information literacy, media literacy, Information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy
  • Career and life skills: flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity and accountability

These key-skills are most likely to develop in the sort of free and open “hands on” setting we provide.

As a school of the future our purpose is to help foster a community of independent freethinkers who embrace and thrive on change, who have grown up playing with the tools of our rapidly evolving culture and who are thus best prepared to forge a life for themselves in this new exciting world. We hope that you will join us on this adventure !

Notes

[1] : Trilling, Bernie and Fadel, Charles: 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, Jossey-Bass (publisher), 2009