Dear Parents,

What do sugar and education have in common?

The answer is that recently, they both have been increasingly scrutinised, by looking at what they create, and/or what they cause. The score card on sugar is confronting. You can read for yourself by Googling the following credible authors; David Gillespie, Dr Robert Lustig and David Yudkin.

Education is increasingly coming under the same authentic scrutiny. Technology continues to rapidly affect our lives. Our economy is also rapidly changing. Most current employment roles will become automated using artificial intelligence.

During the holidays, I spent time with internationally published, analytical thinkers in education; Researcher and Professor – Yong Zhao, Venture Capitalist – Ted Dintersmith, and High Tech High CEO – Larry Rosenstock. Together, they hold the common belief that the ‘old’ (industrial style) model of schooling has become irrelevant to our current needs. I agree.

Professor Yong Zhao promotes ‘product based learning’. This is a way of learning that involves making ‘something’ (product or service) that authentically adds value to our world. Ted Dintersmith is a Venture Capitalist (Entrepreneur). He set out on a quest to see students experiencing fulfilling engagement in their learning. He visited schools in every US State in America and documented his insights within a film called: ‘Most Likely To Succeed.’ In his book of the same name, Ted Dintersmith puts forward the following assertions (p64,65):

  • Driverless cars are now three times safer than vehicles operated by careful human drivers.
  • Software applications can take raw data and write newspaper stories or business reports, indistinguishable from those of journalists or analysts.
  • Personal robots are replacing healthcare providers on hospital floors, in nursing homes, and even private residences.
  • Robotics and software are replacing construction workers and architects.
  • Self-service tablets and mobile robots will replace waiters.
  • Self-service check-out, robotics, and online vendors will replace retail clerks.
  • Drones and robots will replace much of our military personnel.
  • Self-service software is replacing workers in banking and insurance.
  • Watson based software will replace doctors, both general practitioners and specialists.
  • Robots, drones, and driverless trucks will replace workers in waste management and disposal.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence and smart outsourcing are replacing lawyers at all levels.
  • Intelligent robots are replacing workers in facilities and grounds maintenance.

You can watch Ted speak at the following places:

TED talk: Ted Dintersmith

Trailer to Ted’s Dintersmith’s film: ‘Most Likely To Succeed’

Larry Rosenstock was a carpenter, then solicitor, and now founding Principal of an umbrella organization (High Tech High) that currently runs twelve schools in California. High Tech High has four connected design principles; equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design. Staff from SCBC visited their campuses in San Diego. We observed students and staff to be personally invested in their projects, and engaging in learning at a deeper, more rewarding level. They were observed to be highly motivated.

The emerging new ‘competencies’ have been described by a group in the US called ‘Deeper Learning Network’.

  • Mastery of core academic content
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Collaboration
  • Effective communication
  • Self-directed learning
  • An “academic mindset”

From the book: Most Likely to Succeed; preparing our kids for the innovation era (p248).

At an innovative school in Taos (New Mexico) during a visit in 2016, I observed the following desirable ‘learning targets’:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Problem Solving
  • Perseverance

So what you may ask? 

If you reflect on your own school learning experience and ask what was workplace and/or life-skills useful or relevant, it’s likely your response will be relatively short.

At SCBC, we are committed to empowering our students to personally thrive and experience a purposeful life. We want to focus on those things that matter; now and for the future.

Our young people are going into an era where mundane tasks, as well as more complex tasks, will increasingly be done by artificial intelligence. Schools are now more than ever in history, critically important in the role of partnering with parents to provide positively influential guidance. As machines do most of our work in the future, the principles that guide our human choices will be directly drawn from our beliefs.

What schools and parents believe is now more than ever in history, profoundly important for guiding the young people entrusted to our care.

I would argue …

If our young people conceive they have been made in the image of God,

If they develop a soulfully deep conviction that their life is distinctly and uniquely purposeful,

If they recognise that the gifts and talents they have right now will make the world a better place,

If they understand that God’s perfect love can be fully experienced because of the loving sacrifice of His Son,

They will be empowered to value matters of lasting significance, and not be disempowered by issues and activities of fleeting content.

They will instinctively know they have been gifted with abilities and insights that can and will make a difference to themselves, and the lives of others.

 They will experience unconditional love and empowerment to experience the uninhibited, uncomplicated freedom of being a thriving human being.         

More than ever, we are passionately committed to prospering rigorous minds and compassionate hearts.

Des Mitchell