Seize the moment and give young people the skills for the future
The outcome of the referendum, however viewed, has given the UK the opportunity to review its position on the world stage. It is clear that the UK has to provide output that is relevant and desired by other nations to build and grow a sustainable economy for future generations. The economy over the past three decades has relied very much on banking, tourism and service industries. This mix must be broadened to embrace greater innovation technology and manufacture.
Investing in the development of skills
Although it is unlikely that politicians can broaden the scope of Britain’s output overnight, it would be timely to invest in developing a new future through the youth of today. Young people clearly feel very disenfranchised from politics and its perception of self-interest, greed and lack of continuity in both direction and leadership. To many young minds, this background of confusion manifests itself in them feeling uncertain about their futures and unable to commit to long term thinking about their lives and careers.
Working on the theory that Britain’s youth is the future of the country, this scenario could be a little disturbing, but there is opportunity for all if we seize the initiative. And the time is right now. Let’s not spend time and resources on deciding what type of school pupils should attend, and think more about what they should be learning at school. What we learn at school and the interaction with others in that community should inform and shape our lives for the future.
Are we helping pupils develop for their future?
Many pupils are often heard to say, “what’s the point of school and achievement as there are no jobs at the end of it?”. As parents or teachers, it is difficult to support that perception as we intuitively wish to encourage our children and desire them to do well. However, there is an element of truth in those weary comments from many young people that underpins their current attitudes.
It would be a brave person that would say, hand on heart, that we really teach our future generations the skills that are relevant in meeting the employment needs of the future. This future is a world that embraces technology and innovation. We must prepare our young people to be active contributors to this culture, through the early exposure to associated skills to encourage their development.
Teaching and engaging through STEM
So what is the answer? I am sure it is not one thing but a combination of elements. However, one vital element is the introduction of a true STEM curriculum that introduces the world of science, technology and engineering with the practical maths to support the learning within these subject areas. Immediately you hear a “groan” and pupils saying we don’t like science and maths, and in many cases that’s true. If we have the choice between a plateful of golden fried chips or a plateful of soggy greens which do most people go for? We know the greens are probably better for us than the chips, but it is all in the presentation and perception. Put simply, we need to make STEM attractive to our young people and this can be achieved.
Young people are naturally curious and enjoy doing practical projects. Add in an element of problem solving and you have groups of youngsters working together and discussing the challenge as a team. We are all different in our preferred learning styles and natural talents; however, it is difficult not to find an element of the STEM process that will engage most pupils. When we develop skills we develop confidence, and this confidence can be translated into meaningful futures and employment. Can we afford to miss this opportunity to develop a nation of young, confident people with the skills and knowledge to contribute to an overall better world for society?
Over the coming months I will be looking at STEM more closely and sharing my experiences. I hope you will join the crusade.