Yet the one question that needs to be asked most often and most urgently, is rarely asked at all: what is the true purpose of education?
Is it to equip individuals with knowledge, skills and qualifications to achieve a thriving life?
Is it to ensure that those citizens create wealth for the nation?
Is it to ensure that the nation develops a stronger and/or fairer society?
Is it largely to preserve the status quo or radically to change it?
Is it to ensure global progress; to make the planet a better home for all?
Is it something else entirely?
Whatever the answer, education is primarily about creating the future; creating the future by shaping the lives, outlook, skills and ideas of young people.
It is therefore sensible -perhaps essential- to spend time trying to understand the likely form of that future, as well the different challenges it may bring. Future gazing is very clearly not a precise science; definitive conclusions are unlikely. However, not to attempt it at all would appear foolish in the extreme.
To echo the aphorism (wrongly) attributed to Benjamin Franklin: If we fail to prepare for what is coming we must prepare to fail!”
Chris Jeffery, Head
Five expert speakers shared their vision and expertise in a series of 20 minute TED-style talks, followed by Q&A and discussion.
Our speakers were:
Rohit Talwar: futurist, strategic advisor and author: Technology and AI
Kresse Wesling, MBE: multi-award winning environmental entrepreneur: Sustainability and the Environment
Nik Gowing: BBC news presenter, journalist and author: Political, Economic and Geopolitical Change
Jules Evans: Policy Director for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London: Wellbeing and Thriving
Mike Shaw: Biology and Astronomy Teacher at Bootham School: Lifespan and Lifepath
Chris Jeffery: Bootham Headmaster and founding Chair of the HMC Wellbeing Working Group: Conference President
The students ended the day by writing a manifesto setting out the key facets that they believed would be central to an education to fit the next generation of school pupils to face the future.
Click here to see the 2018 official video
Click here to listen to the conference findings
This can be done by nurturing, developing and encouraging individuals who are:
1. Knowledgeable, curious, and motivated intrinsically to learn about the world they are part of; able to make connections across differing fields of knowledge
2. Aware of how to promote and safeguard their own mental, physical and spiritual health
3. Technologically literate and confident, but not unquestioningly so
4. Critical and properly sceptical in their approach to all sources of information and opinion, and hungry for truth
5. Aware of their own individual purpose in life and their responsibility to wider society and the world; willing to take action for change and progress
6. Flexible, adaptable and farsighted
7. Original, creative thinkers, having the courage and confidence to use their knowledge to be problem solvers and to ‘think the unthinkable’
8. Global in outlook; ethical; tolerant of difference and empathetic to all
9. Entrepreneurial, seeking to develop and implement new ideas within the communities they are part of to tackle the challenges of the present and the future
10. Cultured and active, able to fill leisure and fallow time with enriching and life enhancing pursuits
If you would like a copy of the full manifesto, please click here
If you would like a printable Infographic of the above key points, please click here
Feedback from accompanying staff and students:
“A fabulously interesting day”
“All in all, it was a really great day that had some great ideas. I was very impressed”
“Stimulating and thought provoking”
“The format was perfect: just the right combination of expert ideas alongside so many opportunities to question and discuss and meet new people. And great food, and a warm welcome from everyone we met.”
“It was a special and exceptional day”
“Such an inspiring day: my pupils loved it”
Schools who took part in 2018 Barnard Castle School, The Joseph Rowntree School, Bradford Grammar School, Radley College, Applefields School, Fulford School, The Mount School, Dulwich College, Woodhouse Grove School, Fulneck School.
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