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I think therefore I am - René Descartes

Education has evolved from the purist methods of memorising to the modern approach of fostering creative and intelligent thinkers.

Schools have been evolving and changing since ancient times but today there is an urgency for schools to change their teaching and learning programs to truly meet the needs of 21st Century learners.

It may come as a surprise to learn that writing was first developed about 3100 BC, and because firsthand experiences in everyday life could not teach reading and writing, the first schools were created in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

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The method of learning was memorisation, and the motivation was the fear of harsh physical discipline.

The Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions brought significant changes to schools, but unfortunately the focus was still on rote memorisation, doing as you were told, conforming, compliance, teacher developed activities and learning how to fit into society.

After almost 5000 years, the invention of the Internet has created an explosion of information sharing and improved technologies that have opened up extraordinary new opportunities for people all around the world. The smartphone exploded onto the world stage early in the 21st Century along with social media and human intelligence and human capabilities have soared.

These developments in technology and globalisation have profound effects on the very nature of our schools.  

Professor James Flynn has been researching the growth in human intelligence since the 1930’s. His studies reveal massive gains in intelligence over time and highlight how advances in technology play a huge role in the growth of our intelligence. In fact, Flynn claims that each new generation is approximately 9 Intelligence Quotient (IQ) points smarter than the previous generation. His findings show the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day.

Today, schools are full of Generation Alpha and Generation Z students.  Born around the start of the 21st Century, these children are predicted to have a life span of 97 years and to be the first generations to see in the 22nd Century. They are destined to be smarter than previous generations, and much smarter than their teachers, their parents and grandparents.

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They are set for lives of massive social and technological change. Embedded in technology from day one, they will be connected to a worldwide electronic network around the clock.

As a society, we’ve transitioned from a concrete world and fixed mindsets of the Industrial Age, to a very complex world requiring growth mindsets today. We have a much higher percentage of the population gaining a tertiary education than ever before and the working world requires higher cognitive functioning and increased cognitive flexibility.

Schools and teachers need to change urgently to meet the needs of these learners. New habits of mind for the 21st Century are crucial and they need to develop problem solvers who see problems as opportunities and seek out new possibilities to innovate, disrupt and change.

As well as literacy and numeracy skills, teachers must develop digital literacies, creative and critical thinking, real world problem solving, collaboration, collective genius and emotional intelligence in their students.

Gen Alpha and Gen Z are expected to work longer and have an average of five careers and 20 different employers in their lifetimes, according to data from McCrindle Research. They are a whole new breed of young people who see entrepreneurial opportunities and fearlessly make them happen.

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Schools that are not keeping up with these changes are doing a huge disservice to their students. Schools today must have student-centered learning, with flexible learning spaces and an inquiry approach to teaching and learning. Teaching the skills of focus, mindfulness, compassion, inquiry and questioning are central to a 21st century curriculum.

The Australian International School of Phnom Penh (AISPP) is committed to awakening the enormous potential in every child to have a positive impact on their world. They have embraced 21st Century change and disruption to offer a world-class curriculum.

For more information visit AISPP and meet their highly qualified international teachers and learn more about their innovative curriculum at 10.00am on Saturday 5 August 2017. The new school year commences on 15 August. Limited placements for children aged 3 – 12 years of age are still available.

Learn more at www.aispp.edu.kh