There has been much in the press about education with the release of the Gonski 2.0 Review and the NSW Government’s announcing a comprehensive review of all syllabuses. The Premier, in talking with Principals and Governors of schools on Monday night, was keen to emphasise that the focus should be on literacy and numeracy with the role of technology being considered. She spoke about wanting young people to be able to be inventive and innovative and for education to foster it. The Premier is keen that there be a conversation about the review rather than interest groups talking across each other.
Education is one of those topics that elicits strong opinions because all of us have been to school and so we feel we can speak from a position of expertise. There are also interest groups who are keen that their voice be heard; whether it be those who argue for “back to basics”, or those who argue for “an education that fits young people for the complexities of a rapidly changing world”.
There is no doubt that the debate will again be drawn along these battle lines. There will be strong advocates on both sides but the reality is that it is not an “either/or” argument. In his book, The Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardiner from Harvard University, brings the competing views together. He advocates that there is a place, and an important place, for both. He argues that students need a disciplined mind if they are to have enough mastery of a subject to be able to exercise their creative mind and think outside the box. His other minds are the respectful mind, the synthesising mind and the ethical mind. He argues that it is the interplay of all of these that is needed for young people to be ready for the complex and changing world.
It is easy to hear the echoes of Gardiner’s work in the Learning@STLUKE’S framework. For our students to have disciplined minds they need to be resilient learners who have the “stick-ability” to master content. They need to know how to manage their distractions and to become absorbed learners. They will use their synthesising minds when they activate the reflectiveness domain and revise and distill what they are learning. Their respectful minds are activated every time they collaborate, use empathy and listening and understand themselves as being interdependent. Finally, their ethical minds are shown as they live lives of compassion, justice, kindness, grace and humility.
Education cannot be condensed to just knowledge or knowing how to do things, it needs to be about the whole person. An educated person is best defined as someone who has a deep understanding of him or herself, and knows how he or she fits into the world.
Mrs Jann Robinson
Principal, St Luke's Grammar School