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SEK Dublin International School: A brave new world of opportunities

In a time of change, our schools need a new future learning model

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The look and feel of SEK classrooms are different because the way we teach our students is different. 

 

We are living through a fourth industrial revolution. As in previous revolutions, change will be rapid, far reaching and unpredictable.

What began with steam power some 250 years ago continues today at a faster pace than ever before with the emergence of new digital technologies, including automation, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

The way we work has been changing since the 1960s. We are used to the disappearance of blue-collar jobs, work taken by robots or shifting production overseas. But white-collar jobs are set to go the same way.  A 2017 report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that automation could displace a third of jobs by 2030.

Change can be disruptive, but it needn´t be feared.

Yesterday’s workplace was built on mass production, linear lines of management, routine and procedural tasks. Today´s workplace is relying increasingly on creative, analytical, and interpersonal skills. 

In short, you cannot outwork a robot. But you can outthink, outdream and out-feel one. 

To prepare for tomorrow, the way we learn must change today

How quickly we have learned this. Online schooling has shown how outdated the idea of one-size-fits-all is, along with rote learning, standardised tests and all the other rigid approaches more suited to 100 years ago. To prepare for tomorrow, our education system needs to change today.

The OECD, in its report on The Future of Education and Skills 2030, outlines the knowledge and skills young people will need to thrive in the decades to come. The Learning Compass 2030 points to a brave new world of opportunities, but only if students can navigate the challenges of our fourth industrial age.

At SEK Dublin International School, we have developed a comprehensive Future Learning Model in conjunction with teachers, leaders and learners in our schools across Europe to enable just that. The look, the shape and the feel of our classrooms are different because the way we teach our students is different. 

The intelligent classroom

Class sizes might be small but class length is longer, allowing real in-depth study and mastery. 

Class sizes are small, allowing a teacher to focus attention where it is needed. And because children learn in different ways, our learning space and the learning pace is flexible: the teacher can break students up into groups or pairs, allowing them to learn collaboratively or side by side on separate projects. The teacher can move throughout the groups facilitating or stop to work 1-1 with an individual student. Class sizes might be small but class length is longer, allowing real in-depth study and mastery. This flexible structure reacts as the demands change.

Inquiry-based learning

Learning to think for ourselves is at the heart of what we do. SEK Dublin focuses teaching and learning on developing a student´s ability to think critically. Memorising something is not good enough: in order to be able to say that we know something, we must be able to apply it to new and unfamiliar situations, to combine disparate knowledge from different subjects to solve problems and answer big questions. Classes begin with an inquiry question, a problem or provocation to prick our curiosity. From there students learn to ask further questions, factual, conceptual and debatable. In order to think, we teach them first to question.

Student agency

Written into our curriculum are the United Nation´s Sustainable Development Goals. Our learning has real world context and purpose.  All students also engage in service action learning. As such, they understand their community and world better. They understand that, though the problems facing the world might be complex, they can affect real change.

Assessment for learning

Assessment is another ongoing element of learning. It is frequent and continuous as well as diverse, and it always provides constructive feedback. Students have multiple opportunities to show what they have learned; this gives a much more realistic picture of achievement and progress. Diverse assessment means that, while exams and tests are important, so too are projects, presentations, debates and interviews. Each subject is assessed on both content and conceptual understanding so that we assess not just an end product, but process and application as well.

SEK Dublin International School is part of the SEK Education group, a community of schools that have been collaborating and innovating for more than 125 years.