Changing Learning for a Changing World
There are many changes taking place in the educational landscape both globally and within New Zealand as we move from what is described as an ‘industrial’ style economy to a ‘knowledge’ economy. Some of these are described as the “on the one side are centuries old traditions, expectations, and practices of a system of education and schooling created for another time but still deeply rooted in our various cultural fabrics. On the other side is a fast-changing and expanding new story of learning in a globally networked world, one marked by new opportunities and complex challenges, driven by the increasingly ubiquitous technologies that connect us” (Richardson and Dixon (2017). Over the past term our leadership team have been carrying out a stocktake of our pedagogical approach to teaching and learning and working on ways to make our learning approach more visible to our community. Drawing on New Zealand and international research, we have benchmarked our approach to what is generally agreed as good practice in education to see how we are faring. Using a 21st Century Skills template we looked at our foundational literacies such as literacy, numeracy and ICT (What we do). Then we explored how our students approach complex tasks and their competencies such as critical thinking, creativity and collaboration (How we do). Next we looked at how students approach their changing environment using curiosity, initiative, social/cultural awareness and leadership. The key question which we wanted input into was ‘why’ is education moving the way it is and what is St Thomas’s unifying statement around why we do what we do. We sought input from our students, staff, a parent focus group and our Board of Trustees. From there we synthised the feedback and crafted a statement which captured the essence of that feedback. It is our hope that this statement will help provide clarity around why we take the approach that we do to learning at St Thomas’s School. “Changing Learning for a Changing World” It is timely to note that the core business of any school is reading, writing and mathematics and that this will not change. These core areas will also be augmented by technology to amplify this learning where appropriate. We also wish to educate the ‘whole’ student and sports, music, environmental science, wellbeing, and those areas we value as New Zealanders will continue (this includes students running across a field of grass). The changes we have gone through over the last few years (new style buildings and approaches to learning) have at times challenged us as adults (staff and parents), however these challenges are necessary if we are to prepare our students adequately for high school and beyond.