As teachers and children head back to school for the new year, I remain baffled that the education system has changed so little in the past century. From the time I went to school to the time my children attended school, the subjects taught were almost identical, along with many of the methods. I dearly hope this has changed by the time my grandchildren get their education...
As I pointed out when speaking at our Virgin Disruptors debate on the future of education last year, there are still many subjects that are taught on a daily basis that are of very little worth to students. One example is French, which is widely taught despite hardly being spoken outside of France. Some schools even still teach Latin, a language so outmoded one of the few places it can still be seen is on school mottos.
Rather than teaching French and Latin, schools should focus on teaching practical skills to help them to start businesses, secure jobs and develop their understanding of the world. Time spent snoozing through Latin could be spent learning coding. Time spent learning ancient history dates could be spent learning what is happening in today's world news. Time spent copying down outdated business theory could be spent developing a first business plan.
When teaching languages, there should be a focus upon practicality. Spanish, for example, is widely spoken by many people around the world, and also happens to be simpler to learn. Speaking Spanish would open up more opportunities for students upon graduating, as well as being more useful when travelling the world - another thing I think every young person with the opportunity should do.
Experiential learning is much more likely to have an impact on young people, and is more enjoyable for both students and teachers. Being sat behind a desk reading a textbook isn't going to inspire young people, and isn't going to be memorable for them. Kids need to be inspired by the world around them, and schools have an opportunity to kick-start this. Parents, teachers and students should challenge the status quo and call for education to enter the 21st century.