“The curriculum must change. It’s time to position non-formal education and learning properly within the life of every school. Knowledge should still be important and academic attainment prized, but there must be a greater expectation that pupils will also develop life skills, behaviours and attitudes,” says John May in his latest interview with AFS.
John May is the Secretary General of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, a non-formal education and learning framework that recognizes and celebrates young people’s achievements outside of academia. John has spent his career working with and for young people in the United Kingdom and around the world. He works with senior leaders from business, government, education and civil society to improve the opportunities and aspirations of the next generation.
John will join us at the virtual AFS Global Conference (22-23 October 2020) to discuss the impact of the first ever PISA Global Competence Assessment results on different education stakeholders, and help us define the path forward. Visit conference.afs.org to find out more and request your spot at the event.
How do societies benefit from having more globally competent youth?
Through research we have carried out with pwc, we have identified that society benefits dramatically from having more globally competent youth. These benefits include:
- Improved employability and earning potential;
- Improved physical health and fitness; Improved mental health and emotional wellbeing;
- Increased engagement with charitable and community causes;
- Increased social cohesion;
- Improved environmental impact; and reduced offending.
How can educators empower young people to be prepared for an increasingly interconnected world?
Increasingly, educators, policy makers and education regulators are recognising the importance of learning outside the classroom, and the opportunities that can be created to develop the skills, behaviours and attitudes needed for adult life and work. A good school is more than just a collection of classrooms, an assembly hall and a few other specialist facilities. It is a community.
The last few months have proved that a whole lot of curriculum content is better delivered via technology than by a teacher standing and lecturing at the front of a class. Artificial intelligence means that learning can happen at an individual’s own pace. So, the classroom could become even more of a place for interaction than it is now – a place to come and learn when being with other people is essential. The teacher in the classroom could, at last, be a true facilitator of learning, but not the prime imparter of knowledge. Schools should manage child protection to ensure that many spaces are open to the community as well as to students.
The curriculum must change. It’s time to position non-formal education and learning properly within the life of every school. Knowledge should still be important and academic attainment prized, but there must be a greater expectation that pupils will also develop life skills, behaviours and attitudes as part of the core work of the school, rather than as extracurricular non-compulsory, options. Service to the community should be a requirement for all pupils as part of citizenship development and should take place at appropriate times throughout the day rather than ‘after school’.
Adventurous activities, leadership development and vocational skill training should be available to all pupils, regardless of academic achievement. Many of these areas of learning could be delivered by volunteers alongside teachers and paid youth workers – but the school should provide the facilities and be the hub within the community.
How are young people around the world rising to the global challenges posed by COVID-19 and responding to the needs of others?
As the world reels from the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the long-term effects still remain to be seen. But one thing is certain – young people will be amongst those to experience the greatest negative impact in the future. The world’s young people can rise to this challenge and with support, they will be ready for whatever tomorrow brings. Ready with skills such as resilience, communication, problem solving and adaptability. Ready to be mentally and physically healthy. Ready to take a leading role in supporting their communities, their countries, the world.
Right now, a million 14-24 year olds in 130+ countries and territories are stepping outside their comfort zone, learning to lead, keeping active, gaining new skills and supporting their communities – all while locked down, isolated, or with fundamental changes to their everyday lives. They are participating in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Three immediate examples come to mind:
- Kingsley, an Award participant from China, has always held a deep passion for both writing and performing music. During the pandemic, he worked hard to provide stress relief for Covid-19 patients, through playing music for them in hospital.
- For two and a half years, Gold Award participant Lauren, from New Zealand, has been reading to Shirley Macdonald who is blind. When they were forced apart by lockdown, the pair quickly found a way to keep up the connection. Lauren would read to Shirley every Saturday morning over the phone. “It was one of my brighter times during lockdown,” says Shirley.
- For Amiteshwar, from Chennai, India, the pandemic has sparked in him a desire to help the daily wage workers who struggle to acquire essential commodities, including food items. He embarked on the journey of raising funds for 15 families for three months. He had hoped to raise INR 1,35,000, but ended up raising INR 2,44,800 (£2,492) in just 14 days.