If we are to compete with the world and find some growth in the teeth of the economic gale , we will need to encourage innovation. In effect, we need to equip young people to exploit the digital age. This will mean that digital devices will need to become the medium for learning. We shall need to have a curriculum that teaches enough about coding and applications to support the sort of creative thinking that we can, as a country, be so good at. The one glimmer of light in this age of unemployment and a rapidly ageing population is the availability and ease of access to the web.
A couple of hurdles, which can be overcome. The practical, digital expertise in schools often resides with the pupils – we need to support the ‘flipping’ of the curriculum so that teachers can support and learn with the students in school. A second problem is the rigidity of the national curriculum and the conservative, lethargic processes that hinder change – we need to quickly cut schools some slack.
David Miliband has recently argued for the concept of Community Leadership. The reform of the curriculum I am suggesting, could be closely linked to the community, as many of the innovatory applications of new technologies will need to relate to energy, the environment, the elderly, health and social care. Miliband also argues for a counter balancing cohort of comprehensive school headteachers who will challenge the elitist notions that accompany the free school and academy chain models. This group of heads would be the best advocates of an inclusive and enabling new curriculum for the rising generation, a generation who will need to rescue the rest of us.
Ambitious plans to support families and provide greater opportunities are all very well, but will miss the mark if we dont apply them to the challenges of our age. These challenges are, to all of our cost, subjects our politicians shy away from. This, the so called democracy trap – ‘there are no votes to be had (perhaps the opposite) so we will not address these things’. These things being the two great elephants in the room these days – the threat of global warming and the rapidly ageing population.
There seems to be some current interest in localism and society, but I suspect this is more about cuts in services and how this is such a great opportunity for you all! Sadly, all it seems to be doing is damaging the brand just when we need it. If we are to tackle the big issues we will need community action. We are back to the village – or orbits around market towns, urban neighbourhoods.
I suspect the best response to global warming needs a community by community strategy, to reduce energy consumption (and material consumption), to develop alternative sources of energy and more home grown, recyled, resources. The Chord Centre could be the source of information and a focus for leadership – all under the same banner as ‘for our childrens’ futures’. Coping with an ageing population is another potential ‘village’ project. We need community care residences (where we shall all live one day) and where we can all be involved in looking after the elderly. For resourcing, there could be an element of central support, supplemented by local contributions.
The school’s curriculum could be greatly enhanced (as some are already) by a practical focus and engagement on Energy and Care. Chord Centre expertise could become truly ‘cradle to the grave’. However, it is important to tread carefully and to pilot the ideas. Leadership and governance models exist in the schools and this is the obvious place to begin. Another pre requisite is for politicians to properly address the issues and please, for once, to look beyond the next election.