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Children’s Futures: What to learn and why

Existing school and pre-school education is a legacy of industrial society and serves the needs of a different time in its form, methods and subject matter. Today’s world is saturated with information and possibilities; it functions at a completely different pace and its needs have radically changed. The values now required are freedom, individuality, flexibility and adaptability, and at an applied level, soft skills such as communication and teamwork. Even good schools don’t meet these needs. Even when it widens its offer, a strict classroom teaching system simply doesn’t prepare children for their future independence and is incapable of reforming itself. Meanwhile, parents’ expectations are also changing rapidly. Increasingly, parents speak of wanting their children’s happiness and self-realization rather than career or financial prospects. So what should we do? What should we teach, and how? What will happen in the end? These and many other questions that concern parents around the world were addressed at an event at Noôdome.
Kirill Medvedev: Schools should be humane

Kirill Medvedev
Head of Novaya Shkola (The New School)
Schools should be humane
Schools should be humane. However, things have developed in such a way that the notions of a school and humaneness don’t fit easily together. The school system is conservative and it will be bad if nothing changes in schools; they will fall behind. But overhauling a school from scratch is equally bad.

Schools should constantly be asking themselves questions. When they are at school, it’s important everyone finds themselves in a vibrant environment instead of an artificial model that reflects current society.

Schools should invest in human relationships. They should construct a humanist paradigm which is able to facilitate both children’s academic attainment and their holistic development.

Schools should teach the skills of the twenty-first century — creative thinking and handling data. This agenda can be built into the process either through technology or through the way the human environment is arranged.

Schools should help children create a culture of thinking, searching for and understanding themselves, and of learning how to learn. If you do that, results come automatically — it’s inevitable.

Schools should be built on balance. On the one hand you need academic specialists and on the other, tutors and curators. But all of them should be willing to have conversations. As well as this, schools should take responsibility for a dialogue with the parents.
Veronika Zonabend: Schools should help children become the architects of their own lives

Veronika Zonabend
Social entrepreneur, founding partner and Chair of the Board of Governors at UWC Dilijan College (Dilijan, Armenia) and co-founder of Noôdome
Schools should help children become the architects of their own lives
Schools should be varied. Education is about what our futures will be like and how people will build the world around them. For the future, it’s going to be important to know how to communicate, to know about different worlds and cultures and to want to find a common platform for dialogue. Our brains work in such a way that as we get older, it’s difficult for us to overcome our usual ways of thinking and doing things if we haven’t had some experience of doing that right from the start. And that’s precisely why it’s so important to have variety from the very beginning.

The school has to be the right one. Even the most popular school might not be so good for your child. You need to watch very carefully to see how comfortable an individual child feels in a school. The child’s interests are paramount but it’s important to realize that those might be different from the interests of the community. And communities are exactly what schools are.

Schools have to understand the needs children have at each age, so they don’t destroy the love of learning; children often lose their enthusiasm thanks to the education system and going along with their parents’ decisions.

Schools should set the bar. Learning is not just about enjoyment. To move forward, you need to strike the right balance between enjoyment and mastering things you find difficult. Development happens when you put your effort into something. How do you develop the inner motivation for that? Only through your environment.

Schools should help children discover themselves and become the architects of their own lives.
Sergei Kuznetsov: Schools should raise the academic bar

Sergei Kuznetsov
Journalist, writer, founder of Le Sallay Academy and Le Sallay Dialogue School and founder of the Camp Marabou summer maths camp
Schools should raise the academic bar
Schools should work on both the academic and emotional elements. Historically what’s happened is that the academic element of secondary school programmes around the world has been gradually decreasing year on year. But the time that children are spending at school is increasing. Who would want to go to a job where they weren’t being paid and they weren’t learning anything new? It’s important to raise the academic bar because if you do, children’s natural curiosity will grow. You need to tell children about those things that they won’t simply pick up on their own.