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Education view: We need to do more to develop youn

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 April 2018

What does it mean to be educated? A big question but one we must try to answer if we want to offer the very best to our young people.

Is it just about qualifications and grades achieved, or does it go to the heart of what kind of people we are and what kind of society we want to be?

Rather than simply aiming for the best possible set of exam certificates, should we also be asking what we expect from an educated young person by the time they have finished their compulsory education, and what kind of learning would actually get them there?

For me, the answer needs to be far broader and richer that what is currently available.

We should be introducing all young people to the full range of what human culture has to offer and giving them the tools and opportunities to continue to learn and grow throughout life as well as to follow their own passions.

This means keeping literature, arts, science, humanities and practical subjects available as long as possible and never writing off students’ future potential just because they have faced setbacks in their studies.

It also means developing young people as thoughtful, active, skilled and caring citizens; ready and able to make a positive difference and take responsibility in their community and in the wider world.

I don’t think the answer is to select for narrower pathways which limit what young people can aspire to. We need to start from where they are without setting a cap of where their learning might lead them.

The challenges we face; inequality, injustice, conflict and environmental degradation require new solutions.

We need the next generation to be ready for citizenship, with the necessary knowledge, skills, shared values, awareness and good ideas as well as the ability to bring people together constructively.

This broad vision of education shouldn’t be a luxury for the few but should apply to everyone. In my view this is an essential condition for human progress.

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