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Education is too important to be left to teachers alone

I have seen some private schools market themselves as a trouble free way of ensuring that your child gets a good education.

This clearly works as a sales-pitch, but it's a hopeless approach for organising learning.

We need to abandon the view that education is the responsibility of paid-professionals and parents only - otherwise we not only isolate learning from the real-world, but we also ignore the capacity and skills that others can bring, be they volunteer adults, peers, or near-peers.

Clearly austerity has brought these questions into sharper focus, but they have been there all along. Without any breakthroughs in technology, or extraordinary uplifts in funding, there is no likelihood that teachers will be able to provide all children with the extra support they need (and these are the most able students, as well as the most struggling; they are found in grammar schools as well as comprehensives).  

Sometimes the world shifts too fast for those in classrooms to keep-up. An obvious example from Nesta's work is the need to equip more young people with the skills needed to code, to be producers as well as consumer of digital technology. Many of the most credible responses to this challenge rely on volunteers to deliver learning experiences  - both inside classrooms (like Code Club, and Apps for Good) and outside (e.g., freeformers). 

In other cases the expectations were always false  - clearly you need to tap into the experiences and networks of as many folk as possible if you are to find out about an unadvertised job vacancy, or understand what a career in law is really like, or realise that doing x and y is sensible if you are to demonstrate to an ad. agency that you have creative flair.

What all these approaches and examples have in common is that they use people helping people approaches to work on public service type outcomes - something that Nesta is helping to scale-up through its Centre for Social Action (helping children and young people succeed is one of our four priorities). 

I also like to think that they chime with what is natural and best about being human; which probably explains why volunteering makes us happier. A win-win situation.

Author

Mark Griffiths

Mark Griffiths

Mark Griffiths

Project Lead

Mark worked in Nesta’s Innovation Lab on programmes that involved young people.   This included the young people strand of the Centre for Social Action and our work on digital educat...

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