The above quote by Peter Drucker highlights a firmly held idea by several top educators and consultants. However, reality demonstrates otherwise, with an estimated 40 percent of employers finding it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need. Despite progressive views on education, action and impact seem to be two disparate entities, rather than one being a natural result of the other. In a world faced by multiple challenges, it is extremely important to bridge the two and rethink education as a sector, listed on our to-do list for children.
We can no longer function with the learning approaches of the Industrial era. Education is a more than just going to school. It involves the coming together of so many social players to form a complex system, requires a set of shared goals, as well as strategic policies with holistic learning at its centre. And the opportunity lies right there – in the institution that connects all of these players through a wide range of touchpoints – be it in school activities, homework, extra-curricular activities, workshops, parent-teacher meetings, amongst many others.
We believe our educational institutions need to reimagine, reshape and rethink their current approaches, very successful for passing exams, but to review curricula, class structures, teaching methodologies and extra-curricular activities to embrace a future that is driven by those who are resilient, creative and agile enough to deal with uncertainty. Partnerships, mentor development and future-based programmes can go some way in reshaping an education sector to one that is adept, resilient and beneficial, for today and tomorrow.
Recent research that we commissioned, titled the ‘UAE Future of Learning 2022 survey’, found that 69% of parents in the UAE believe that artificial intelligence and virtual reality will have the largest impact on their children’s future, followed by cryptocurrency and the metaverse (54%). However, three out of five UAE parents felt education today doesn’t prepare their children for the technologies of the future.
At Citizens School, we believe it is imperative to focus on technologies that are rapidly shaping the way our children chart their educational journeys moving forward. As an educator, this means having to focus on transformative solutions, especially in a market as diverse as the UAE. At Citizens, we do this by using technology to not only enhance learning but also support personalization and engagement of our students, so they enjoy learning and develop adaptive dispositions throughout their school journey.
At Citizens, we integrate ed tech and innovative practice into the curriculum to shape our pedagogical practice and skill development for children. We have a 1:1 Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative in our Primary school and this offers a whole world of learning opportunities and possibilities, by encouraging greater participation.
Furthermore, digital transformation plays a big role in The Citizens Futures Framework that overlays the British curriculum and is a key part of our innovation strategy. The curriculum is made of six central themes with an assessment rubric developed for each. These are: Growth Mindset; Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship; Global Citizenship; Leadership in Sustainability; Health and Wellbeing and Digital Literacy.
A key part of implementing this change lies in with our educators – our mentors. Our learning mentors are supported by several selected educational partners, that are primarily chosen as they align with the Citizens’ vision and mission which is focused on a paradigm shift in our current educational landscape.
We provide our community with the resources and the way of thinking that enables our learners to thrive. The Citizens Learning Management System (LMS) allows our parents to be real partners in supporting our children’s learning and are able to actively contribute, providing additional information, evidence of learning, within and outside of our school walls – because learning doesn’t just happen at school.
To equip citizens of the future with skill sets that are in line with the ‘real world’ through authentic learning environments, partnerships are a great support. Citizens School has joined forces with key partners to support our community in providing outstanding learning environments for our students – both inside and outside the school, as well as in the virtual world.
Through a strategic collaboration with global ed-tech solutions provider – 8billionideas, we have co-constructed a tailor-made and bespoke programme for Citizens learners which is centered on the development of 21st-century skills with a focus on entrepreneurship. In Years 1,2 and 3, students work on a development project and focus on developing skills related to communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.
All students are provided with a dedicated 8Billion mentor who guides their work and provides feedback. In upper Primary, the focus is on the development of ‘the entrepreneur’, start-up business plans, the key attributes and traits of entrepreneurship.
Right from the beginning, we believe in the power of giving children the right role models to learn from. We believe our parents are the best role models and in empowering them, we can in partnership, create a safer and more successful future for their children.
Early this year, we became the first school to accept cryptocurrency as a mode of payment and the first to open in the metaverse. In enabling a virtual world alongside our physical reality, by empowering parents with choice, we are in turn enabling a positive learning ecosystem where children learn from seeing their parents choose innovation for a better lifestyle.
To reimagine the future of education, it is important for students, parents and mentors to have an equitable voice within learning environments. It is crucial for children to iterate, design, to re-work their ideas – to have agency and feel empowered and to be able to explain what they have done. In this way, they become the true owners of their learning journey, and in turn reimagine the future not just for education, but also themselves.
Author: Tracy Moxley, Executive Principal, Citizens School