Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We Are the People We’ve Been Waiting For

The world is facing huge challenges and they're growing daily in severity, in scale and in complexity. It's no exaggeration to say that they're not going to go away. Indeed they will get worse unless we can start to find solutions and find them soon. If we're going to survive we desperately need the next generations to be smarter, more adaptable and better prepared than any that have gone before. Our only chance is to improve the way we teach our young. To equip young people with the skills and attitudes that might steer this world of ours to a far safer place than at present looks likely. The question is... is that what our current education system does? What we have is a system that's shaped by historical forces, but they're now almost totally bankrupt as ideas for education of the 21st century and we're betraying most of our children. Public systems of education, paid for from taxation, were invented to meet the needs of the industrial economy that was emerging in the 18th and 19th centuries when we needed a workforce who can do those sorts of things. The high schools of today were essentially designed in the 19th century and they've reached their zenith in the 1950s. In the old days we said "one size fits all"... thirty kids, put them in a classroom, and then teach them the same material that they're all expected to get it the same way. There's tendency to look backwards. There was a golden age of education but schools became steeped in history and the past, in static knowledge, and failed to capture the "here and now" and often failed to prepare young people for contemporary society, for the realities of the world in which we're living. And even more significantly they failed to prepare young people for the emerging issues of our time.
We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For is a 75-minute documentary feature which examines the worldwide crisis in modern education. It observes how millions of young people are essentially being failed by the system and explores alternative ways of tapping into the reservoirs of talent that exist in the generation that will inherit the very complex world we have created. The documentary is anchored around five young Britons in their final year of formal education. They come from Swindon, considered to be the microcosm of British life in the 21st Century. Here they have all had the same educational opportunities – indeed, they could easily have attended one another’s schools – and yet, even the most successful student exposes the depth of the systemic failure in education. Through their experiences and comment, paralleled with the views of young people from all over the world, we observe the depth of the issues associated with education and the challenge associated with effecting change.

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