‘Do we equip our kids adequately?’

2013-08-12 00:00

HOW will today’s children survive in tomorrow’s workplace? This question was posed at the Proudly Primary 2013 conference held at Cordwalles Prep School over the weekend.

Titled “Touching the Future” and organised by the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa, the gathering provided the estimated 1 000 delegates, mostly teachers at private schools around the country, with a rich menu of topics to digest, ranging from classroom technology to drumming as a tool for learning.

Cathy Fry, talking about “Teaching and Learning in the 21st century”, said it was crucial teachers looked at what is happening in the global workplace so that they could adequately equip children to take part. “I’m not sure we’re keeping up with the changes,” she said. “It’s not all about technology.”

Fry, an educationist who runs two organisations that teach leadership skills and creative thinking, said increasingly companies were requiring employees who could work in teams, find information and use it, analyse, organise and think critically.

“Globalisation is transforming education. All countries are in a race, and to stay at the top of the game business wants creative people who can do research and development and know what’s happening in the world.”

She said schools needed to question their syllabus and ask if it was interesting and relevant, as well as reconsider rules that banned the use of cellphones in classrooms. “Why banish cellphones, they are mini computers,” she said.

In her session, Dee-Ann Panzera took teachers through various exercises with everyday objects like paper clips, elastic bands and sticks, showing them how they could help pupils to think laterally.

“Many children haven’t had the opportunity to think like this,” she said, adding that children sometimes spend too much time sitting at desks doing worksheets instead of working with their hands and with each other.

Psychologist Tim Barry, in a presentation titled “The rising tide of mediocrity”, cautioned against allowing parents to pressure schools into acquiring all kinds of technology like iPads into the classroom. He said while technology wasn’t bad in itself, it was harmful because of what it displaced — like time to play and experience real life.

• shelaghm@witness.co.za

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