May 27

Yesterday I was off to a conference on e-learning and the development of future models of teaching. It was an interesting day but it had the usual frustration that I encounter at these events: lots of people willing to talk a good game, and precious damn few actually stepping up to show practical examples of how they’re going to do something. It’s all well and good to say “the world is changing: we have to change our methods of education to be more relevant in the 21st century” but it’s another to show that you’re doing something. However, despite this there was one thing in particular that caught my attention and got me to thinking.

As the keynote speaker took the podium a picture of a little boy appeared on the big screen behind the stage. The little boy, the speaker explained, was his son, born in the year 2000. He pointed out that with advances in medical technology, longer life expectancies, some good luck and a bit of looking after himself, that boy might well expect to be born in the last year of the 20th century, live through all of the 21st and die in the early years of the 22nd. As his dad was giving the speech the little boy was at school. His dad pointed out that at that very moment, as he stood there speaking to us, his son’s teacher was helping to lay the foundations of an education that could last someone into the 22nd century. That person was, in a way, touching the next century.

There were other interesting points made that day, but that one in particular caught my imagination and made me think. Okay, so it doesn’t really apply to me as my work is mainly involved with adults returning to education after some time in the workforce, but it’s a fascinating perspective to put on the job of educating the young. After all, the world is made up of the people in it – and if you have the job of forming the people, doesn’t that mean you help to form the world?

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