Academic and practical skills education from start to finish
So we’re building a picture of a primary school system that lets kids experiment and play with ideas, but delivers core skills in literacy and numeracy – with an attitude of ‘whatever it takes for my students to learn, I will teach’. Small class sizes, ongoing assessment with no exams and minimal formal homework. This would encourage curiosity and experimentation to develop the active citizens we need. The time spent in sections of the mandatory education system should vary for different students according to ability and inclination. If a student shows practical talent greater than academic, then they should be encouraged to pursue that talent with less focus on academic learning. Facilities for this need to be just as well-resourced with all the tools, equipment and teachers required to learn practical skills. This migration may be complete for some students and partial for others. Creative arts often combine academic and practical skills. There should be no problem with a student pursuing a variety of these studies according to ability and enthusiasm.
I belong to an amazing, huge and diverse World
In the course of the years spent with an academic focus, curiosity and experimentation should become more rational scientific processes, critical thought and a value of the pursuit of evidential truth over temporary failures. At the same time, an ongoing study of multicultural philosophy and appreciation of aesthetics is needed for everyone; a study that introduces abstract ideas along with forms of art and expression. As a part of this, every student should be exposed to other languages from as early as possible. Encouragement to learn at least one other should be strong and a part of this, greater formal education in English grammar is an absolute requirement. Whilst Asian languages should be strongly supported, the greater the diversity offered; the better. Being exposed to other languages while young provides an incredible shared understanding and acceptance for multiple cultures for all children. As the Czech proverb says,
“As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”
If groups of kids find a common interest, then collaborative learning and development should be encouraged. As a foundational point to all of these outlooks is support and development of empathy in all citizens. The fundamental understanding that you share your life with other people, animals and plants within an amazing global ecosystem that encompasses all of us should be a fundamental goal of any education system. This allows us to guard against the greedy few being able to receive the support they need to reach adulthood with such immature and anti-social attitudes intact.
I understand my political system and how to use it
Understanding our political system needs to start in primary school and develop and evolve throughout the education system. Starting with how elections work, to running them, to studying the levels of government in detail and finally interacting directly with government bodies. Every student should understand what an active democracy is and how connected they are to the future of their country through their influence on political processes. This understanding should grow deeper as a student progresses and can form a part of the collaborative projects they must undertake towards the end of mandatory schooling.
My group can do far more, far better than I can alone
Towards the end of the mandatory schooling period, collaborative work must be a valued skill to be developed. This should bring the two sections of learning style back together again. As a natural extension to curiosity and discovery, this aims to show the value of a variety of team members with different strengths in achieving results. Complex tasks that require both practical skills and academic curiosity and abstraction act to bring together groups of people. Building a vehicle, or solving a real life problem are good examples; competing between teams on both tasks is even better. Combining the strengths of a group of people should result in a far greater outcome than any of these individuals could manage by themselves.
Sometimes less education is more
At the end of the mandatory period, students should have the option to leave the education system, or continue for longer to achieve different results. This might take the form of an apprenticeship, higher education course or combinations of the above. From this level of education there should be a theme looking towards business goals and planning such that anybody completing the courses would also have a basic knowledge of how the government will support them to get started and what they might achieve by taking the high risk path of developing completely new products and services.
As a final point to extended resourcing for the education system as a whole, there should be some attention paid to providing more expensive and complex facilities for groups of schools. These would be directed towards the particular outcomes of the schools, their locations and the communities that surround them. It might include research farms, laboratories, electron microscopes, geographical imaging systems, satellite communications, telescope and advanced manufacturing like 3D printers. Introduce all these facilities to young kids and have them return as they get older to experience and explore them in more and more detail.
That education system will be the catalyst to build the society to run the systems that drive the sustainable economy of Australia’s future as a part of Asia and a global citizen.