The Future is Wide Open

Grant Harbor / Insights

18 May 2023

During our family’s Saturday morning drives to soccer games around the coast, my kids love to sing along to music. They take turns holding the phone to choose a song on Spotify and then flick to the ‘lyrics’ tab to sing along together. It makes for a fun and interesting mix of ‘That’s just my baby dog’ to ‘It’s Raining Tacos’.

Now all three of my kids have taken a little longer to gain confidence in their reading, and it struck me that this fun time of reading the lyrics as they sing along might be supporting their reading fluency.

As it turns out the Institute of Education Sciences has done a study which reaffirmed that reading song lyrics not only improves fluency, but possibly more importantly, ignites an excitement around reading and gaining fluency in text. (Patel & Laud 2007)

This example of technology influencing how we learn echoes what research has been telling us for some time now about the changing nature of the world and work around us, and the impact this has on education. Students entering the workforce will need to acquire new skills continually, which requires flexibility, and a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and curiosity. Research such as the Foundation of Young Australians report back in 2016 (FYA 2016), featured in a 4 Corners Episode, as well as multiple research papers from organisations such as the OECD (Future of Education and Skills 2030) and the World Economic Forum (Schools of the Future 2019), all give similar advice. We also see that social and emotional skills can be equally – and in some cases even more – important as cognitive skills in becoming a responsible citizen.

We’ve recently watched how advances in AI technology have significantly impacted the nature of written prose with the launch of ChatGPT, and these leaps in technology can sometimes be scary as we adjust to this rapidly changing landscape.

Yet time and time again in history we have shown that we humans are very resourceful, learn fast when we need to, and always find new opportunities as the world around us changes.

At St Andrew’s, we continually challenge ourselves by implementing new curriculum programs such as Creative Enterprise and STEAM, while also developing a Culture of Thinking in every class; all of which supports our students in this new world. Our focus on Personal Capacity and the launch of a Personal Capacity Transcript this year is a direct outflowing of an identified need to equip students, and then clearly visualise these future capabilities.

So, while the basics such as a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy will always be the foundation on which we base all learning, I agree that a focus or emphasis towards creativity, innovation and what some call the ‘soft skills’ of interpersonal and global citizenship is certainly required. There are also some components to the art of education which will seemingly will never change, such as the nuanced and humanistic relationship between a student and teacher which ignites learning.

I am inspired to see my own children leveraging this new world to help them succeed, be it using Spotify to unwittingly practice their reading! I see a future that is seething with opportunities, and it’s our job as a community to help all our St Andrew’s students to not only see their futures with this optimism but give them the skills to walk confidently into their futures.

(No, I did not use ChatGPT to write this article for me... 😊)

Author Profile

Grant Harbor

Head of Future Learning

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