Insights from the OECD's Director for Education and Skills at the Organization
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), joined our community for an evening discussion on the future of education. Eager for an opportunity to come together and reflect on the bigger picture of our shared, daily mission, many parents, faculty, staff, and students logged on to hear Andreas speak.
The evening marked the first event in our annual Speaker Series, and we are delighted to kick off a year of learning with such an insightful speaker.
The talk began with an overview of both the recent data gathered on the impact of COVID-19 on educational losses around the world, before expanding into information about how technology impacts education. The historical context for the relationship between 'traditional' aspects of education and the new devices, mediums, and tools offered attendees a groundwork to move towards a discussion of which factors actually contribute to positive educational outcomes for students.
Andreas shared that while innovation and new technologies are often the focus of conversations surrounding education, the data show a different story about just which aspects of a child's educational experience provide a truly impactful education. Rather than simply relying on new technologies to deliver information, or focusing on teachers and teaching platforms that offer a great wealth of technical knowledge, Andreas shared that the schools and teachers themselves have a huge impact on students' ability to achieve, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Better outcomes in terms of reading performance, student satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation are associated with schools where students feel supported by their teachers, where the teachers are clearly both knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and where the focus of education is not simply analytical or routine information cramming.
"Easy to teach is easy to automate," continued Andreas, and he urged our community to think about how education must deliver students the skills that form the compass to forge their own path. By learning skills that are non-routine analytical and non-routine interpersonal, students can be prepared to address complex problems, think creatively, and orient themselves toward the world armed with a deep, conceptual understanding of the ideas behind the skills they possess.
For Andreas, in order to prepare students for success, schools and governments must respond to the current gap between technological advancement and education. He shared that, "the world rewards you for what you can do with what you know," and a truly innovative classroom uses both passionate and compassionate educators, leveraging technology, to give students a growth mindset, skills, knowledge, and transformative competencies. In effect, this teaches students how to think, not what to think, and empowers them to navigate the issues facing our world from the perspective of their own well-being, the well-being of others, and the well-being of the planet.
Before opening the Q&A, Andreas pointed out that, "success in education nowadays is about identity, about agency and purpose. It is about building curiosity––opening minds. It's about compassion––opening hearts. And it's about courage, mobilizing our cognitive, social and emotional resources to take action." From this jumping off point, students and parents were ready to ask their burning questions about their own experiences and the experiences of their children.
Our Upper School was represented by Amélie, Emma, and Jake, who asked insightful questions on the necessity of human interaction in education, the future of college admissions, and the importance of being taught how to think, not what to think, by dedicated educators.
Emma's question was particularly salient for our Grade 11 and 12 students as they prepare for university applications; she was curious to know what Andreas thought about the tension between wanting to prepare a successful application to university and all that this entailed, and wanting to have a transformative, if potentially 'non-traditional' educational experience. He confirmed that while the pressure that students and families face to present themselves well is very intense, it is true that universities and colleges around the world feel the same pressure to offer a transformative high-educational experience, and that university admissions criteria is changing rapidly, both to reflect innovation at the secondary level, and to seek out students who are prepared to go beyond at the university level.
We hope you enjoyed this evening and the opportunity to focus on the larger forces behind our ASP mission! For parents or students who weren't able to attend, you can check the Parent Portal for our recording of Andreas' talk!