insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 69 Dec 2017 - Page 174

EDUCATION ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE ‘yet’ by Mike Piercy, Headmaster IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT WE MAY NEVER ESCAPE (OR EVEN MODERATE) A WORLD DOMINATED BY EXAM HURDLES; THERE HAS TO BE SOME OBJECTIVE MEASURE OF INTELLECT. WHAT WE CAN HOPE FOR, HOWEVER, IS A WORLD OF EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT WHICH SETS OUT TO DEVELOP ‘SOFT’ SKILLS. IT IS THESE SOFT SKILLS WHICH WILL BECOME EVER MORE IMPORTANT IN LIFE AND IN THE WORKPLACE AS AUTOMATION LOOMS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BOUNDS FORWARD EXPONENTIALLY. So how can schools respond to this rapidly changing world? Lessons still have to be attended, the syllabus covered, teaching and learning, tests, mocks, exams – it was ever thus. Exam results propel young people to the next stage, whether it be senior school, university or a job. I recently asked our boys (The New Beacon is a boys’ school!) how they dealt with disappointment – not failure, but disappointment. It is not just ‘PC’ to choose the word disappointment over the word failure; it is the avoidance of a value statement. I asked if they stamped their feet, sulked, retreated into their shells – for five minutes, hours, days or weeks. Their response was revealing and amusing – laughter, and the dawning of self-realisation. The message was to turn as quickly as possible from the emotion of disappointment to the logic of analysis and reflection, quoting Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “For the robust, an error is information; for the fragile, an error is an error.” 174 I know I am not alone in my concern for the world into which our children are growing. Alex Percy, Head of Counselling at Oxford University, was recently quoted in The Guardian: “A lot of [students] feel they’ve got to get everything right.” In a driven world, concern about making mistakes is becoming a fear which inhibits learning. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes; the problem lies in making the same mistake time and time again. A positive learning environment allows room for error – a negative environment denies that opportunity. Our children need to be adaptable, resilient; able to face challenge, change and disappointment. Another story from The New Beacon. We took our Chapel Choir to Dubrovnik. They were to accompany a church service on the Sunday morning with sung responses they had never seen before in an unfamiliar country, an unfamiliar church with an unfamiliar acoustic. The church was chosen because it was said to have a good organ. To our consternation, there was no organ. The choir would have to sing unaccompanied and had only two hours’ rehearsal to get it right. I would not tell the story if they did not rise to the challenge – and with some style: they were brilliant! An extreme example, perhaps, relative to the smaller, day-to-day challenges of spellings, tables and tests, but there is an intrinsic element of education which must prepare children for the trials of life. One of the smallest words and yet one of the most powerful for children is ‘yet’: I can’t do it – ‘yet’; I can’t work it out – ‘yet’, changing the negative to the positively ambitious. We encourage you to try this at home. thenewbeacon NBS7OAKS