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An Interview with Lord Jim Knight - Education for Centurions

Today’s school children are set to enter an unpredictable labour market, in a rapidly changing world.

Today’s school children will be deskilled by technology and expected to reskill as market demands shift and our workplaces become increasingly globalised, Knight explained. They’ll work longer than any generation before, in jobs so diverse that many don’t even exist yet. It’s estimated a child born today will have a 50% chance of living to 105 years old.

For Knight these are our education centurions who need be prepared for the world that awaits.

One of the biggest obstacles identified by Knight is established practice and a cultural conservatism. Moreover, those who have the power to influence change, the policy makers or leading educators, may be more strongly wedded to the status quo than most, having generally been well prepared by their time in education for success outside it.

But, there are some who are advocating change in a big way. An area ripe for transformation is the demand placed on schools to focus on summative assessment and accountability. Such practices can make schools risk averse, yet are areas well placed for an overhaul and able to reap the benefits of new technology. Technology isn’t the answer in and of itself, but can be a way to create more individualised learning journeys, tailoring engagement to meet each students’ requirements.

Knight describes this as a need to nurture humanity, and a move away from recall or standardised learning. Technology and learning tools are already enabling forward-thinking educators to encourage self-evaluation, formative assessment and this kind of creative pedagogy.

For this to happen, Knight believes a shift is needed in our understanding of success, so that we can effectively see the benefits of personalised learning. In Knight’s talk at the Learning Conference, he will consider what a more sophisticated method of evaluation could look like. A barometer that can capture useful outcomes, such as students’ level of engagement in education, their sense of self-worth, readiness for working life and post-educational progress.

Engaging parents is a core part of supporting students’ transition from education to the workplace. Knight’s view on nurturing humanity naturally extends to involving parents in their child’s learning journey. Again, technology can be a gateway to enabling parental involvement, but in an environment where they know their child is not another widget being churned out by a machine, but rather a valued individual, supported to follow their own path.

Jim donated the entirety of his keynote speaker fee to support three charities. You can find out more about them here:

TheHorseCourse – a charity that takes children with challenging behaviour through a course that uses horses to help them learn to moderate their responses and to be empowered through self control.

Camara Education - uses technology to improve education and livelihood skills in disadvantaged communities around the world.

The BrightPath Foundation - international non-profit organisation focused on building local capacity through values-based technology training, education sector support and resource development initiatives.

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