Jeff Paulson on...
At ZIS, our program is built on the latest pedagogical research, enabling us to prepare students for the future.
We live in interesting times. The last 20 years have been ones of extraordinary changes: political, social and industrial. How do we equip our children for such a world – a world where technologies we can’t imagine now will be commonplace in the future? A world where the jobs they are likely to hold have not even been invented yet? How can we ensure they have the skills to thrive in their future lives and careers?
These are challenging questions – but ones that can’t be ignored. As educators, we do the next generation no favors by shying away from the new and retreating back into the comforting, old ways. At the same time, a program for the 21st century cannot be built on buzzwords and guesswork – which is why, at ZIS, we draw on the knowledge, experience, research and evidence being generated by top institutions around the world to guide our approach to education.
Happily, the message from the research is clear. Success in a changing world will not just be about getting good grades and learning facts. For example, research from the World Economic Forum, the international organization for publicprivate cooperation, looks ahead to the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the next decade, when robotics and artificial intelligence will be well-established.
In its report, The Future of Jobs, it identifies complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, cognitive flexibility, judgment and decision-making as some of the key skills which will make our students employable, and help them find their way in a rapidly evolving workplace.
These are qualities that can be applied across the board, in any industry – even one that has not yet been invented. And they sit at the heart of the ZIS curriculum, articulated through our seven ZIS Character Standards. Similarly our four dispositions – open-mindedness, resilience, playfulness and reflectiveness – emphasize the logical and flexible habits of mind that will be essential over the next 50 years. Playfulness, for example, encourages learners to take risks, try new things, and think creatively – all skills greatly valued by today’s fast-moving tech industries. Open-minded encompasses being receptive to information and ideas which challenge our beliefs, identifying alternative perspectives – vital in a world where we are bombarded with information from all sides.
And important though employability is, this new world will also need humanity more than ever. That’s where our three values come in: compassion, fairness and integrity. We want ZIS students to have empathy, and to consider how their actions will have a positive effect on others. They should seek to do what is right, even when nobody is watching. They should focus on translating their beliefs into action – both local and global – and consider the impact of their decisions and actions on others.
Education, just like the wider world, is changing. At ZIS, we are well placed to deliver a true curriculum for the next century, a curriculum that has a built-in response to pedagogical evidence and research. It’s a robust approach unique to ZIS – and an approach that will, in the future, ensure that our students are able to face the world with robustness, too.