School of Tomorrow – Empowering Lifelong Learners

After attending the Beaconhouse School of Tomorrow conference, a quote by Alma Haris lingered in my mind even until now, “If we want 21st century learning, we can’t have 20th century systems”.

The 4th School of Tomorrow Conference opened to a crowd of over 600 delegates from over 9 countries at the Sunway Resort Hotel. The education conference is the fourth in a series of international conferences organised by Beaconhouse to explore a new vision of schools and the future of learning from a global perspective. This is the first time that the conference is being held in Kuala Lumpur and I was privileged to attend it on both days.

The conference, took place on the 20th and 21st of November 2012, also marked the 37th anniversary of Beaconhouse School System.

Welcome address by Mrs Nasreen M. Kasuri (Chairperson Beaconhouse School System) 

The conference continues the exploration of what it means to be a ‘School of Tomorrow’. It addresses three streams:

•             Teach, learn and inspire: innovative methods of teaching and learning

•             Early Childhood Education: yesterday, today and tomorrow

•             Building learning communities: strategies for leadership, learning and collaboration

Keynote Speech (Day 1)

Renowned inspirational speaker and author of ‘Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today’ Richard Gerver, delivered the keynote address to the participants made up of mostly scholars, educators, educationists and academia from around the world.

Richard quoted Steven Hawking, “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet”. “Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

Richard asked a question to be posed to the children, “Do we do things in school because the adults like it or do we do it because we want to?” He mentioned that many educators are preparing children to take exams instead of empowering them to be lifelong learners.

Richard shared the question he posed to the people of Google, “What do you look for in young people to work in Google?”

Google’s Answer: Traditionally, educated students have the technical needs required but it’s not WHAT they know but HOW they behave. We are not interested to hire people who asked “What do you want me to do” instead we are looking for people who can tell us, “I can do this”.

Panel Discussion (Day 1)

Panellists: Richard Gerver, Alma Haris, Diana Laufenberg, Zarina Mobarak and Pamela Mundy.

Moderator: Kasim Kasuri

Memorable quotes during setting direction with the panellists above.

Richard Gerver

– Help children celebrate the potential of their lives to what they can become.

– Education is a serious business. Pick a school of your interest and make appointment to visit it. Stand at a corridor for 30 seconds. If you don’t hear laughter, walk away.

Alma Haris

– If we want 21st century learning, we can’t have 20th century systems.

– Marther Luther King didn’t say, “I have a specific plan”. Focus on the quality of teaching. A system means nothing if teachers are not passionate about their job.

Diana Laufenberg

– Systems on compliance and control won’t work.

– Watch, observe and step back to see what your children can do

Pamela Mundy

– We always remember our teachers for good or ill. Choose which you want to be.

– Nobody told Picassa he has 5 more minutes before he can go out and play.

Zarina Mobarak

– Bridge the gap between the public and private sector.

– Changing education policies especially on medium of instruction every 4 years won’t work.

I chose the Teach, Learn and Inspire stream as it focuses on innovative methods of teaching and learning for the primary years.

Zachary Chase did the groundbreaking for Energising the curriculum.

Zac said, “We often teach kids in pieces and put them in into a whole. Instead, try to teach in the whole and then put in the little missing pieces that the kids are incapable of doing later”.

He gave an example on how to teach a kid to play football:

Commonly an adult will hand the ball to the kid, telling him it is a ball and pointing to the kid’s feet, he will explain and show the kid to use his leg to kick the ball into the goal.

An innovative way however will just be telling the kid there is a goal, try kicking the ball into the goal.

Conclusion: The child will THINK how to kick the ball and kicks it in his own way rather than just mimicking the adult. This way, we are keeping the door open for any special talent to be showcased and developed.

Workshop (Day 1)

For the workshop, I attended Ayesha Kasuri’s ‘Learning without boundaries’ as I’ve always been keen on Project Based Learning.

Ayesha said that ‘Creativity can’t be taught, however it can be nurtured’. Let your child utilise his creativity. Let him be creative by risk taking which involves failure. Allow the child to fail and learn from it.

One of the keynotes shared during the workshop.

Day 2

Second day kicked off with a recap of Day 1 and Overview of Day 2 and quickly we break into our chosen streams.

I chose Leadership of Place: Creating a place where every child can belong.

Panellists: Tan Seaw Chin, Kathryn Riley, Sharon Seah, Anthony Xavier

Moderator: Heather Terrill Stotts

Memorable quotes:

Anthony Xavier

– Leadership is loving children. Teachers are the first person to connect to the child in school. If you want to educate, you need to love.

– A child should feel safe the moment he steps foot in school.

Ms Tan S.C

– Young people want to be heard, school is the place where they can share what they can’t at home. – Every teacher has the knowledge of content. A good teacher imparts the knowledge. A great teacher inspires the student!

Sharon Seah

– Teach children to embrace and respect each other’s background.

Kathryn Riley

Hopes and dreams for children need to be boundless.

Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim

Malaysian Minister of Information, Communication and Culture

“What is important is nurturing the thinking and analysing process in each of our students,” said Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim.

Students’ Perspective (Day 2)

The highlight of the second day has got to be Students’ Perspective by Richard Gerver with Beaconhouse students.

Richard happily said that any one of them (the students) could be our PM one day so be NICE to them! :D

His session with the students is very fun and interactive. I can’t help but think if he was my teacher, I’d definitely look forward to go to school every day!

Master Challenge (Day 2)

For the Master Challenge, I chose “How can individual learning needs to be catered to in the classroom?” by Stuart Stotts.

There was a lot of brain-storming being done during the entire 2 hours session.

We concluded that traditional classroom teacher delivered content the same way to every student and if you don’t get it, it’s your fault.

We need to present a lesson in variety to cater to all kinds of kids with different learning styles and interests in the SAME classroom. Some examples given are the use of songs, movement, intonation and drawing.

Here’s a video of one of Stotts’ different approach in class – Song and movement.

It was a fruitful 2 days conference. Kudos to Beaconhouse for bringing together its school leaders, academic decision makers, delegates representing other private schools and educational institutions, publishers and other stakeholders of civil society. Beaconhouse also invited a large number of delegates from less privileged schools, NGOs and government. 

I strongly agree with Alma Haris’s quote because with today’s pace and technology, learning can no longer be confined in classrooms. 

12 Comments + Add Comment

  • //

    so how? u plan to send E to Beaconhouse?

    • //

      If we can afford it, yes…

  • //

    sounds like lots of learning you got there lol

  • //

    and we also need to have the 21st century mindset too, i think this is the most important factor..

    • //

      Totally agree with you on this Sherman. Without 21st century thinking, whatever system implemented will not work.

  • //

    I’ve always heard of Beaconhouse. Pretty good choice for young kids’ education :D

  • //

    Very interesting workshop. I love what Richard Gerver said about “Stand at a corridor for 30 seconds. If you don’t hear laughter, walk away.” But sadly we can’t have more choice here at local school unless we send them to private.

    • //

      Hence Zarina Mobarak’s quote “Bridge the gap between the public and private sector” :(

  • //

    So insightful especially the football part! If you didn’t mention, I would do it the traditional way too!

    • //

      We are all guilty of that, arent we? Unknowingly we are killing a child’s creativity…

  • //

    Great panel speakers! It’ll be interesting to listen in although I’m not in the target audience. :)

  • //

    Educative conference!

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I am a mother to two boys; Ethan and Ayden and a wife to Darling William. I'm a stay at home mum who blogs to break the monotony of life and to avoid feeling jaded. Would love to get to know all the Super Mommies and Daddies and Babies or Singles out there with the hope that we can learn more from each other. Most of all, I am a happy person, and I hope YOU are too.

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