We are constantly told that we are educating many of our children for jobs that don’t exist yet, that they will have to deal with problems that we don’t know as problems and that the world in which they will be living as adults will bear very little comparison to ours and even less to the times that our parents and grandparents would have been familiar with.
So how on earth do we prepare today’s children for the mystery of a future that we cannot really begin to comprehend? There is no right answer to this, but what is certain is that teaching the same old subjects that have traditionally been covered in schools for generations needs careful consideration.
At the beginning of the year I attended a lecture by a chap called Monty Halls. He is an ex-marine, SCUBA diver, adventurer and motivational speaker. I must have heard him speak on four or five previous occasions, always at dive lectures about various experiences he had had under the water.
This presentation was different, because Monty was talking about a leadership project he was keen to introduce to schools. With his background you could be forgiven for thinking that what he had in mind was a series of physical challenges involving raft building, rock climbing and orienteering, but you would be very wide of the mark.
These challenges are a series of class-based activities, with children working against the clock to try to complete an activity in teams, frequently with various restrictions imposed. They might be blindfolded, or have to work together without being able to talk, or complete a jigsaw without seeing the picture on the outside of the box.
As these activities develop, so leadership skills come to the fore. The children are tested in a variety ways, working together, communicating, taking the lead at different times and having a great deal of fun trying to solve the challenges that they have been presented with.
All of our children will have the opportunity to experience various positions of responsibility as they move through the School, but these exercises are something different and it really is an exciting project to be part of. Essentially the activities are being trialled over the next few months with a view to their being launched officially throughout the country next year. We are currently the only prep school in the country in to be involved with the project and it is something that I really am excited by. We have children in Years 2 and 5 working on these and it is a project that is well worthwhile and great fun!
Furthermore, the experiences that the children will have undergone will all help provide them with different leadership skills that will stand them in good stead in so many different areas as they go through their lives. This is why we are doing these exercises with them; it might just make a difference in years to come.