Student skills – A reflection from Dubai by Dr Simon Camby

Dr. Simon Camby, our Group Director of Education, reflects on an encounter he experienced during a visit to Horizon English School, Dubai:

As I look around, a common sight. People chatting quietly and engrossed in conversation. A small group huddles together and it looks like one of them has just had an idea that they are sharing. Some are working on iPads, others are jotting notes. Nothing remarkable. A typical sight in a coffee shop or open-plan office. This wasn’t either. It was a collaborative working space and the people were 10-year olds. I observe two students working in discussion quietly, lost in their conversation. I feel guilty to interrupt their flow. I discover that the industrious pair are Mehr and Amatulla from Year 5. I enquire about the focus of their learning.

Their measured explanation was articulate and humble. Without any prompting, they explained with reference to why, what and how they were learning. They showed an understanding of me as the audience. They began by explaining they were working ‘in role’ as representatives of the government. Their task was to create a policy about the use of tech devices out of school. Their outcome was a written constitutional point.

Whilst the content of the learning was impressive so was the way in which they explained and engaged with me. After asking them a few questions, one of the students asked: ‘Please could you give us some feedback on our learning, it would be helpful.’

This conversation took no more than 4-5 minutes but left my head buzzing with thoughts.

  1. Governments and global commentators often paint a gloomy, monochrome picture of education. My insight points to a much more technicolour reality. This is a reality of highly engaged students that are undertaking learning that has purpose leading to autonomy and mastery.
  2. Many organisations write reports about the future of education and present this as a topic ‘for the future’. I disagree. The future is today, now! The students we are educating are the future. The opportunities we plan and the way we engage makes a difference. Of course, we should consider evidence, research and constantly learn and adapt our thinking and work. But we must never make this solely ‘future tense’, it must include ‘present tense’.

The interaction I describe above is not one-off or unusual. In my professional life I have a recurring source of optimism… our students. They are remarkable young people taking everything in their stride. We must be careful not to impose a gloomy set of worries onto them. We must remain restless to improve but in great schools this is incremental and part of a constant process of review, reflection and action rather than an event.

Thank you to Mehr and Amatulla. They were acting ‘in role’ as the government. For what it is worth, I would happily live in the country they are governing. Articulate, smart, caring, respectful learners. A good set of ingredients for success.

———— Back to the Thought Leadership

JUN 15   /  
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