What is Education Insight?

Despite being an educator for almost 20 years, when asked to write this piece for the newsletter, I must admit I had no idea where to start.  What is it that will interest the school community the most?  Should I talk about where education will be a few years from now or do people want to hear about the latest trends?

In the end, I decided a good place to start would be what education actually is.  The Oxford English Dictionary describes education as, “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university”.  This definition really surprised me and seems so far removed from what we do at BCB that I just couldn’t see how it could be right.

Giving or receiving systematic instruction seems so boring and is certainly not what I observe when I walk around school.  I see students playing musical instruments, learning languages, singing, building, running, collaborating, debating, acting… I could go on but I think you get the picture.  A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to watch BCB’s Little Shop of Horrors and then only two days later watch the Year 7s, 8s and 9s participate in a sailing regatta.   I don’t doubt the students were being educated on these occasions but it seemed a lot more exciting than simply receiving systematic instruction!

Global Education is a phrase often mentioned and one that is particularly pertinent in our international setting.  The aim of global education is to help young people gain a greater understanding of how their actions can have an impact on the entire world.  Learning about climate change and global warming is a way to facilitate this but, to have the biggest impact, we must make students curious.  Curiosity cannot be taught; it must be developed through lively debates, research, discussions, and by encouraging students to be independent thinkers.  This is not something that happens through systematic instruction.

Classrooms used to begin and end within the four walls of a school but this is no longer the case.  Technology has opened up an endless world of possibility for teachers and students alike.  Notes can be recorded, uploaded and shared on the spot giving us even more opportunity for communication.  There are now modern educational toys, such as interactive building blocks and drawing pads making learning accessible to everyone.  Nowadays learning can be personalised to suit individual needs, interests and abilities.  If someone had said to me 20 years ago, this is where we would be in education, then I would not have believed them.

This brings me back to the previously mentioned definition of education and how to me it is so archaic.  Education is about interaction, fun, excitement, being open-minded and taking risks.  In short, education should be an enlightening experience’, which is exactly how the Oxford English dictionary defines ‘an                        education’.

Iain McGowan

Head of Secondary

The British College of Brazil – Nord Anglia School.