With SLF 2014 now only 4 weeks away we hear for one of this year’s keynote speakers, John Carnochan about his keynote and thoughts on Scottish education.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” Herman Melville
Teachers, parents and families have a collective responsibility to ensure our children receive a rounded education that helps prepare them for life. Sadly, in the process, we too often forget or ignore the fundamental importance of human connection and relationships in our lives.
We seem to think now that as professionals we just need to do more of the same and everything will be ok, more policy, more training, more process and everything will be fine. This slavish adherence to professional process is, at times, naively arrogant and often ineffective. Not only does it ignore the value of human attributes, it often deliberately de-values them as being somehow unprofessional.
Professionals do not have all the answers and neither can we continue to assume that professional skills are the only “skills” appropriate or adequate responses to persistent problems. The strategies, systems and structures that exist today often can only manage the problems we face, new thinking is required if we are to make these problems better. We must begin to Respond Differently.
Professional and technical skills are important but they are not more important than the human attributes that demand we care for our fellow humans that help us establish relationships and that keep us connected. By combining the professional technical skills with our human attributes we will produce far more effective services and also help us do the right things for the right reasons.
Teachers are on the front line of Responding Differently, helping prepare our children for life. It’s certainly true that our children will need many of the technical skills delivered so effectively everyday in classrooms across Scotland. But these technical skills alone will not be enough if our children are to lead successful and productive lives. There is every possibility that many will be working in roles and doing jobs that have not yet been invented; they may be working in industries that haven’t been created yet. The skills that will be of most use to them in everything they do will be human “skills’. Our children will need to be resilient, adaptable, courageous, thoughtful, collaborative; they will need to communicate, problem solve, negotiate, compromise. Most importantly they will need to connect with others, they will need to be human; create better relationships and in schools it will create better learning and better behaviour.
In Scotland we have started to Respond Differently, particularly in Education. We have defined What our ambition is for our children, we want to make Scotland the Best Place to Grow Up. We have also defined How we are going to do it with the introduction of national policies such as GIRFEC and CfE. The inclusion of “wellbeing”, in CfE, with its aims to help children become Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Effective Contributors and Responsible Citizens is hugely important.
This is an exciting time for Scotland and I sense that we have started to Respond Differently to children how we educate them and how we include them.
We know What we want to do and we know How we’re going to do it that’s a great start. Change is always difficult but if we remember also Why we are doing it the angst borne of the change will lessen as our aspirations increase. We are after all humans first and change is what we humans do, its what we have always done. Leadership has a role to play but we are all leaders and we can all Respond Differently.
If you want to hear John’s keynote then register for SLF 2014.