Oct 7, 2019

All of us in education are in the business of making connections. These repeated connections form a framework or network which takes on a vibrancy and vitality of its own. This occurs either in the brain as neural pathways that strengthen by repetition or between individuals, who interface with one another repeatedly and dynamically, strengthening bonds in body, mind and spirit. 

Sir Ken Robinson in one of his many books on education, posed the question … ‘When does a framework become a cage?’ Is it possible that some of our didactic convictions, played out in the learning environment, serve to stifle rather than to liberate?  Do we need to scan the ancient philosophical principles of academic engagement afresh in order to breathe life into our classrooms? 

In the same way as Facebook provides a vast social media platform where users explore and create their own content or Uber is the largest provider of taxis but own no cabs, we should be more interested in providing opportunities and connecting communities of young people. The glue which binds them together? Modelled values. 

I received an email today from the Diocese of Bath and Wells Director of Education. He pointed out that June 2038 is the date when babies born this year will, most probably, have completed their formal education. How do we educate now to equip young people to flourish in the present and in the future? How do we connect with children and young people in ways that help us to shape values, skills and competencies for the present and for the future?   

When Jesus taught people the values that he held dearly he helped and equipped individuals and communities to flourish, in the present and for the future. How are we embedding lifelong values into our schools, our curriculums, that will help others to flourish in the present and the future? 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed a Learning Compass for 2030, a framework that seeks to help policy makers identify and embed the key competencies (not new subjects) that promote wellbeing and will enable learners to flourish in the present and in the future. This framework will be reflected in Pisa measures of education globally. The top three of the twelve competencies are oral communication and presentation skills; collaboration and teamwork; initiative. 

The Philosothon movement, it seems to me, is a perfect vehicle for enabling young people to make connections and cultivate rich common values in a context of compassionate communication, courageous collaboration and mutual flourishing.  

Father Mark Smith