Is that an interesting and important question?

There was a time, not long ago, when ‘knowing the correct answer’ was the pinnacle of education. Information was stored in encyclopaedias or in your head – and so there was a premium placed on memory recall.

The world has changed. Education is changing.

Our students’ future success will depend less on reciting what they know and more on asking what they don’t know.

Whilst creativity and innovation begin with a foundation of knowledge, their life-source is curiosity. The ability to solve interesting and important problems begins with the skill of asking interesting and important questions.

So it’s critical that educators consider how effectively their students are learning this skill? How often are they practising it? How much lesson time is dedicated to this skill? How is it being assessed and how is feedback being provided on this skill?

All, it would seem, very interesting and important questions.

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PS Here is a little sample of interesting questions students are exploring in a school I visited recently:

    • Why don’t you do the things you know you should be doing?
    • What don’t you know about ________?
    • If you weren’t scared, what would you do?
    • Is it possible that what you know about _______ is wrong?
    • What would happen if we ________?
    • Is it possible that there’s another way to ________?

Careful, not too far

When you get the chance to experience true innovation in schools or organisations, it feels exciting. It’s not just the novelty, it’s the sense that this new way of doing something is qualitatively better.

This kind of development stems from an intimate knowledge of the system in which the innovation is occurring. When we have this level of understanding, we know how far the constraints and conventions of the system can be pushed or bent before they break.

But when we fail to respect the system, or we push too hard or too fast against its foundations, it doesn’t give people time to adjust or adapt. When people feel too challenged or destabilised, we can end up simply causing frustration and/or being dismissed as someone who “doesn’t get it”.

Innovation will, at times, be disruptive and stressful for some people within a system. But when done well, carefully, professionally, and respectfully, innovation can nudge behaviours, reshape constraints, and energise the system without upsetting the apple cart.

10 interesting facts about education

Here are 10 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about education.

  1. There is a worldwide shortage of well-trained teachers. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), 69 million teachers must be recruited to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
  2. In many developing countries, people with just one additional year of schooling earn 10% higher wages.
  3. Globally, there are around 60 million primary school-age children not enrolled in school. About half of them will never enter school.
  4. Approximately 500 million women and 250 million men remain illiterate. Andorra, Finland, and Norway all have 100% literacy rates whilst South Sudan has just 27%.
  5. The King’s School in Kent, England is the oldest continuously operating school in the world. It was founded in 597 AD.
  6. The average age of teachers in Singapore is 36 years. In Italy, it’s 49
    years.
  7. The City Montessori School in the Indian city of Lucknow is the world’s largest school. CMS has approximately 52,000 K-12 students spread across 18 campuses.
  8. Many schools in Brazil begin their academic day at 7am.
  9. Russian primary school students spend approximately 470 hours in the classroom during the school year which is about half the hours that US and Australian primary students spend in school.
  10. Although no one really knows exactly, most estimates suggest that there are somewhere between 4 and 6 million schools in the world.