Leaders in education gathered at The Broken Bay Institute to find out what gives great teachers and leaders that “magic touch”. Head of the School of Education at the University of Newcastle Professor John Fischetti in this interview shares his insights on the topic “Schools for the 22nd Century: Reframing Schooling for the Collaborative, Global, Innovation Age”.
What is different about teaching and education in the 21st century?
Today, with the advent of what I call “the innovation age”, emerging technology is so prevalent that you can tap in right now and listen to me talk without getting up in the morning and putting on a uniform.
Technology has made it possible to re-think schooling.
We don’t need schools to be places that children go to watch their teachers work.
We need very active learning environments that are inspiring and prepare people for this different era we’re in.
In the past, if you weren’t well educated, there were options for you.
You could work in the mill or the mine or work in your parents’ store and have a good life.
You could own your own business and earn more income than a teacher.
Everything could be done without being as well educated.
Now, students need to have great literacy and numeracy skills, business savvy, an entrepreneurial mindset, technology prowess, collaboration skills, cultural appreciation and international perspective to even compete in this current economy.
The competition isn’t just with the next suburb or state anymore, it’s with those two kids in Mumbai who just had the next big idea.
The international marketplace means we all have to be really keen to be successful.
What are the critical issues facing leaders in education today?
With only 23 million people in Australia, we can’t afford to have a generation fail.
Every child has to be successful.
India has more gifted children than we have children, so all of our young people have to be at the top of their game for Australia to be competitive.
You can’t have a great school without great leaders. So the pressure now is on the leaders – you can’t fail.
What do you mean by “reframing” schooling?
The purpose of a school should be to prepare children to be successful in the collaborative, global, innovation age – to work together, to solve problems and create knowledge that helps improve the planet or the common good.
Our whole mindset is around students being passive listeners, not active collaborators, which is why in a lot of situations students are bored at school.
There are a lot of exceptions of course but that’s the prevailing heartbeat, that children are not invested in their learning.
Right now we don’t assess collaboration, global understanding or appreciation, we don’t assess innovation which includes creativity and new ideas that help accomplish our goals.
We assess skills based on NAPLAN and the HSC. Does that measure the real purpose of schooling for the children at school today?
If we want to improve our children’s lives and the lives of their children, who will take us into the 22nd century, the first thing we have to do is change the purpose.
An example unrelated to education is when people say “I need to lose 5kg”.
They are actually saying they wish they were healthier. The purpose is not to lose weight, it’s to get healthy.
You could become healthier and stay the same weight so the weight may not be the result.
That’s how you re-frame purpose.
The Broken Bay Institute delivers the Graduate Certificate and Master of Theology programs through the University of Newcastle and works within the Faculty of Education and Arts.