Category: Education

Career options in the 21st century

I completed my A-Levels in 2007, almost a decade ago. It’s fair to say that:

A) There were a whole host of career options which I had no clue about at that time (which I now do – and only really have gained a proper appreciation for in these last 12-18 months)
B) In the last decade these “other” options have become increasingly typical, as others have woken up to them and transitioned careers to reflect what they care about, and the sort of lifestyle they want to live

In fact, according to the folks at Escape The City, a “21st century career” looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.25.30

At my grammar school in southwest London, as someone who had been reasonably “academic” at school with my grades being pretty decent (and also with the 2 hard-working generations whom had come before me), I had narrowed my career options to the following:

– Medicine
– Dentistry
– Law
– Banking

And that was pretty much it. In other words, something reasonably prestigious which I envisioned would be a safe and steady option and would lead to a well-paid career.

One major downside to “careers advice” and “career options” in 2016 is that we still live in outdated times where options seemed to be very fixed — e.g. “lawyer”, “doctor”, “builder”, “butcher” and stuck in the times when a job used to be a job for life, which is now not the case. In the last 40 years, we have gone from “a job/employer for life” to “several jobs in a lifetime (across different industries)”, and we are now moving towards “several jobs at any one time” with the “freelance economy” on the horizon. (Hence the conformity which school encourages is only becoming increasingly inappropriate & detrimental).

Careers/jobs are simply not fixed like this any more — here’s what’s possible in today’s world:

1. These traditional “identities” can now manifest themselves in a number of different ways

If you want to be a “writer” — you can be a blogger, you can write content for a company, you can be a journalist, and so on. If you want to be a “doctor” — yes, you can go down the traditional GP/consultant route, yet you can also work for a healthcare startup, you can find a way to scale your medical knowledge to reach a wider audience over the internet.

2. The portfolio career

As mentioned, there is now no need to “choose” between one career or another. Have multiple interests? You can now go for a “slash” career comprised of 2 or 3 (or more) parts. You can be a coach/speaker, you can be a writer/teacher, you can even be a lawyer/teacher.

Indeed, many of us are not specialists by design, and have a whole host of interests. (This TED Talk by Emilie Wapnick — “Why some of us don’t have one true calling” is eye-opening).

Recommended reading:
Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher
And what do you do? 10 steps to creating a portfolio career by Barrie Hopson & Kate Ledger

3. Solopreneurship

It is now possible to carve out your own skillset in whichever field / based on whichever interest(s) you may have, and then either build your own online audience from it, or work for yourself and take on your own clients. You don’t have to build a huge company, you don’t even have to have a business partner or any employees. Many people disillusioned with working in the corporate sector and choosing to transition in this direction.

Credit: Unsplash (via Pixabay)

Recommended reading:
The $100 Startup Chris Guillebeau
Screw Work, Let’s Play by John Williams
Escape from Cubicle Nation, by Pamela Slim
The Escape Manifesto by Escape The City

4. Entrepreneurship

I had no idea it was possible to pursue business at a young age, having been under the impression it was for “older people” who had experience under their belt and then magically went on to build successful businesses. With the rise of startup/accelerator programmes, enterprise schemes at school (e.g. Young Enterprise), entrepreneurship courses at universities, as well as programmes/funding for entrepreneurial students at university, in addition to programmes like NEF (New Entrepreneurs Foundation) — entrepreneurship, though not for everyone, is now accessible to graduates and young people in general.

Note of caution: there is a certain amount of glamour attached to entrepreneurship and startups. It’s really important to know the pros and cons and understand the bigger picture, before jumping into either one of them.

5. Working for a startup

If I had known that startups/small businesses was “a thing”/a genuine option, that may well have been the option I had chosen coming out of school. Being a small business, you get to learn a lot, work closely with some amazing individuals and really feel close to the mission of whichever business you are joining.

Startups are emerging not only in London but a number of other UK cities, and across every sector: from the “traditional” sectors of education and healthcare, through to “new” sectors such as Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing.

Recommended reading:
Why young people should seriously consider working for a startup

Though the landscape has changed a lot in the last few years and these other options have since “emerged”, careers are probably the farthest from linear and defined that they have ever been. The 21st century career is all about exploring, experimenting and zigzagging.

2016 is an exciting time for young people, whether coming out of school, college or university.

PS. Despite (hopefully!) being wiser now than I was 10 years ago, it’s been a fun journey :)

I originally wrote this article for the Thriva blog (it also featured on Medium)

The School of Life on “How to Find Meaningful Work”

“Our interests don’t manifest themselves spontaneously. They require us to patiently analyze ourselves and try out a range of options to see what feels as if it might have the best fit for us. But unfortunately, schools and universities, as well as society at large, doesn’t place must emphasis on this stage of education – on helping people to understand their authentic working identities. There’s far more emphasis on simply getting ready for any job, than a job that would be particularly well-suited to us.

Which is a pity – not just for individuals, but for the economy as a whole – because people will always work better, harder and more fruitfully when their deep selves are engaged.

-Alain de Botton, Philosopher & Creator @ The School of Life

Full Video:

Homeschooling & Unschooling

This weekend I visited the National Portrait Gallery, and came across an exhibition on the famous Bronte sisters. I read about Charlotte Bronte’s early life, and how she had gone through periods of going to school, and other periods where she would stay at home. Charlotte wrote quite strongly and emotionally about how school life disrupted her freedom and time she could spend writing, and being able to spend the time as she wanted to.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read about schools stifling creativity (Ken Robinson’s TED Talk is a recommended one if you haven’t seen it), or in some way stifling one’s ambition. I have come across several individuals who are, in my opinion, successful and living well, doing work that they truly care about, or were in some way meant for. (One example is Isaac Morehouse, who was homeschooled, and now also homeschools his children – his interviews with his son Nolan, here (aged 8), here (aged 9) and here (aged 10), are quite extraordinary).

I used to, like many others, look upon homeschooling, and unschooling, with a questioning gaze. For example, with unschooling – to leave children to their own devices, playing computer games and making lego? I couldn’t quite fathom how this was a good idea and could lead to healthy, successful outcomes.

However, my perception has somewhat changed in the last 12 months, as I’ve read more about it and studied education and the schooling system with more of a critical eye. Thinking back to my own time spent at primary school, and the early years of secondary school (i.e.before the real pressure kicked in and I had to choose the “sensible, academic subjects”, which would lead to a safe, secure, high-profile career), and I fondly remember about how I used to love creative writing, and letting my imagination run wild when I put pen to paper. It seems a distant memory, but I remember it quit fondly. I have also always enjoyed stories of fantasy, myth, and cartoons too. From around Year 9 (i.e. aged 14) onwards, was the time when we started to be prepared for GCSE English – i.e. preparing for “the syllabus” – and so creative writing turned more to analysis of plays and poems, and rote learning for exams that were to come.

It is only in the last few months that I have rekindled my love of writing, having been set on a path away from some of my true interests which I feel my schooling largely contributed to. Whilst I am mostly writing about (non-fiction) topics I am interested in, I have half-heartedly planned to take part in the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) competition which comes around each November. My writing muscle is slowly developing and getting stronger, and perhaps I might toy around with a little creative, fiction writing.

Unfortunately the school syllabus is far too rigid, one-dimensional, and in many ways irrelevant – and increasingly so for the world that we live in today. It is so important for children and teenagers to be encouraged to pursue what they care about, what they are interested in, their true intrinsic motivators, rather than to merely do the subjects they think that they are supposed to do, and for the purposes of passing the exams they are supposed to take.

Though numbers are still relatively low, the number of home- and un-schoolers in the UK is increasing year on year. One of the only downsides I see to that model is the lack of social support and interaction with peers; perhaps more concrete communities can be formed as numbers grow. Unschooling, in particular, allows for a free and autonomous form of education and, I wonder, if that is one which can lead to greater self-direction, autonomy, mastery, purpose and, ultimately – fulfilment. There are certainly parallels between home-schooling and entrepreneurship that have been identified. A lifestyle choice to keep an eye on for sure… (Speaking of self-direction, several high-profile individuals have drawn comparisons with unschooling and entrepreneurship).

Home- & Unschooling side, one does feel that mainstream education drastically needs to change, especially given the world we now live in. Unfortunately, given the sheer size and complexity of “education”, and “the system” operating like it has for so long, I find it difficult to see how existing schools and colleges can make the drastic changes that are needed. Perhaps it is up to new schools, such as School21 and Floreat, which somewhat offer a small beacon of hope for the future.

(Note: you may be wondering – what’s the difference? Homeschooling is where a syllabus is still used, and traditional subjects still taught. On the other hand, there is no syllabus used for Unschooling, with activities led by the interests of the child, and facilitated by parent. You can read more about the differences here and here)

Aspire Prep Bootcamp

On Saturday morning, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Inspire Prep’s last bootcamp sessions of their 8-week weekend course.

Aspire is a bootcamp for children (mostly aged around 10-16: i.e. KS2 —> GCSE) with the theme being to **prepare tomorrow’s leaders**. As well as English, Science and Maths tutoring, Aspire also focuses on a more holistic education (outside of pure academia and even “traditional education” as a whole), with the aim of equipping young people with the skills and knowledge to succeed and do well in the world we live in today.

The second speaker (after myself) on the day was Sabrina, who told us about how she views her identity (British / American / Liberian – in nor particular order), and how she doesn’t identify with any one of those in isolation, but rather each makes up who she is, and have in some way informed her world view. Sabrina’s story is inspiring, having come from a single-parent home, and now meeting with and sitting next to world leaders of all varieties.

She spoke about the need for authenticity, and the need to remain true to who you are, no matter where in the world you find yourself, or whichever position you are in. She also spoke of the importance to realise that you are as deserving of anyone else to be there (e.g. sat at a table with world leaders), and to recognise that what you bring to the table – even if you are coming from a non-typical background compared to the others there.  Sabrina went on to tell us how, as leaders in a global world, we need to be able to know how to relate and respond appropriately to one another, and across cultures; speaking after the session, I briefly mentioned EQ (emotional intelligence) and Sabrina introduced me to CQ (cultural intelligence) – which I hadn’t heard of!).

I spoke about happiness and mental health, in particular referencing the newly-emerging field of positive psychology; science is now showing us what we can do to keep well and live a good life.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Aspire Bootcamp was that both youths and parents attended – and so everyone was involved. It is quite clear that the community – only coming together for its second year – is already a special and close-knit one. My feeling is that Aspire will continue to grow and, I hope, have an impact on the lives of more young people, parents, and everyone involved, from the teachers to the speakers on the Bootcamp.

At a time when wellbeing has flatlined, mental health issues are on the rise and – in this era of social media and constant connectivity – where we are, ironically more disconnected than ever before, communities like Aspire will have a huge role to play. After all, social relationships are said to be the number one factor when it comes to determining our mental wellbeing.

Of course, beyond the community element, Aspire is doing some fantastic work to help youths achieve academically, and also instil broader skills and knowledge to help them in their lives ahead.

Next year, there is talk of a retreat outside of London for the Aspire Bootcampers. Perhaps there might one day be an Aspire School…

I hope Aspire keeps going from strength to strength. It is certainly an initiative to keep an eye on and one, I hope, that I will be fortunate enough to be involved with again.

Why getting a degree is probably not the best option any more

This week is National Apprenticeships Week in the UK (#NAW2016). Woohoo!

We have certainly come some way when it comes to apprenticeships. And yet – at the secondary school I went to (which I left almost 9 years ago – scary!), it was completely out of the question to consider any other route other than university.

Going to a prestigious university and doing a “decent” degree, culminating in that smiling photograph dressed in graduate robes and beaming parents on either side, feels like a rite of passage for many young people today.

"We're so proud of you, son!" (Credit: Mango Productions/Corbis)
“We’re so proud of you, son!” (Credit: Mango Productions/Corbis)
There is so much pressure to go to university, for a whole host of reasons. Not least because that is what the aspiration is, and it is often felt from all directions – school, parents, society.We are told this:

“University = Success”

And yet, in 2016, this is a dangerous message to promote. Whilst I didn’t come out of university with a degree myself (ironically, I am now studying a Masters), I witnessed how former school-friends (graduating in 2010) came out of university to a world they were not expecting, and seen how countless others graduating with top grades from Russell Group universities have struggled to find any semblance of a job in the field they were aiming for – or even one that they weren’t.

And I’m talking Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell-Group-University graduates, with 1st and 2:1s here, just to put things into context.

What the hell is going on?!

Back in 1965, things were different. Around 5% of the UK population went to university and so, no matter which university you went to or what you studied, this happened:

University –> Job for life

Fast forward to 2016, and university –> job for life has gradually gone from pretty well guaranteed to almost the complete opposite (indeed, the “job for life” is an outdated concept too – we have gone from that to “several jobs over a lifetime” and are approaching “various different jobs at any one point in time” – especially with the rise of the freelance economy and all indicators estimating a more self-driven, autonomous future of work. I’ll save that for another article).

The market is completely flooded. The value of a degree has, without a doubt, been reduced – which is especially ironic, seeing as the price has risen exponentially. (£9,000 a year in fees alone plus living costs amounts to the average young person being in excess of £44,000* or so of debt by the time they’ve graduated).

Yes, you get a student loan and, yes, the idea is that you start working and begin paying this off slowly over your working years. But the idea was that the degree would give you entry into work. Isn’t that what you are paying for – the bottom line?
“Being a graduate is now not a free pass to graduate employment”  – Mary Curnock-Cook, Chief Executive at UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service)

And that’s putting it mildly.

Another great irony in all of this? Employers are now asking graduates:

“Where is your work experience? That’s what we need…” 

Things have around full circle. Back in the day, apprenticeships were seen as respectable and noble. In fact, as this article describes, the apprenticeship was once the go-to way to prepare yourself for a career.

It is a great shame that apprenticeships are considered lesser than degrees, when the truth is that they hold so much value.

School and parents need educating here – in British Asian society, the notion of not going to university and doing an apprenticeship would likely cause upset and embarrassment; for a parent, it is seen to imply your son or daughter isn’t intelligent enough to go to university, that you had somehow failed them in some way.

(Another irony – this article is full of them – is that doctors, considered by many to be one of the most high-status, prestigious and sought-after careers, essentially do apprenticeships following completion of their medical degree by way of their two Foundation years (F1 & F2); every medic has to complete these two years at a minimum, before being able to practice as a qualified medical professional).

Also, the fact is, with the exception of the medical (and dental) professions where a degree is a necessity, in 99% of other cases, a degree is merely supposed to provide you with the foot in the door (along with all of those other things – independence, freedom, self-learning, etcetera – which university does enable to some extent but, I would argue, can also be found in other, less expensive ways; e.g. travelling).

The fact is – as soon as you have gotten your foot in the door, no one really cares what your educational background is.

Certainly a couple of years in, after which your graduate scheme (if you are on one) expires,
no one actually cares whether you have a degree or not. (Not unless you’re counting great aunt Bessie, who will always be ever so proud of you and will therefore care IMMENSELY).

Despite all of this, so often we hear about going down the “safe route”, and “having a degree to fall back on”.

To address this, firstly, in the 21st century world that we live in today, where you can showcase your creations through LinkedIn, a personal website, or a blog, for example, you can demonstrate your value in fair more effective ways than “2:1 in [insert degree subject here] from [insert Russell Group University here]”. And there are far fewer people actually showcasing their work in these ways (or, it should be said, doing the work in the first place).

Look at what Nina did to circumvent the tedious process of applying to a job at airbnb, along with the masses. Raghav Haran also gives some great examples of this. But these instances are a rarity, and provide an unbelievable, untapped resource(s) for getting ahead of the crowd and tangibly showing who you are and what you have done.

At the same time, leading firms such as E&Y, PwC and Penguin Random House are reducing their graduate intake numbers, and increasing their school-leaver numbers, for a whole host of reasons. It’s clear that firms are questioning the value of a degree themselves, and even realising that young people are more adaptable straight out of school.

Choosing an apprenticeship, or other form of work-based learning, is not only a valuable experience in and of itself, but also a debt-free one – due to the fact that you earn whilst you learn.

Instead of dragging yourself to lectures, continuing the traditional educational route where you learn to merely exams, at a cost of £27,000 plus the rest – why not get real-world skills and without the debt?

Compared to a graduate joining a firm at the age of 21, as a school-leaver joining the same firm aged 18, you will be 3 years ahead in terms of your career, and thus at an advantage already – and not shackled by the debt.

Why would you not consider this as an option?

All of this leads to one profound statement:

Whereas a degree used to be the precious commodity, actual experience in the working world has taken it’s place.

In 10 years time, perhaps the statement “go off and get some work experience to fall back on” will become the saying instead of the one that exists currently.

*Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

This article originally appeared here, and was also featured on Medium.

Startup founders & their education

When we look around at the world and study those who have created their own businesses, generally these individuals fall into two brackets in terms of their education:

1.     They either didn’t go to university / college, or they dropped out (or, perhaps, “opted out”) – think Steve Jobs and Richard Branson

2.     They did go to university / college, and followed the conventional path of formal education and then on to a high-status corporate job of some sort. In this second instance, they most likely went on to create something special alongside their job, or having quit their job (or both)

Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos (credit: www.wikimedia.org)
Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos (credit: www.wikimedia.org)

“The focus for most seniors, including myself, was trying to get a job lined up before graduation…Many of our other roommates applied for banking or management consulting jobs, both of which were considered the “hot” jobs to get.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO (extract from “Delivering Happiness”)

Examples of individuals who fall into category 2, include:

Peter ThielPayPal Co-founder (quit his law firm after 7 months)

Jeff BezosAmazon Founder & CEO (quit his NYC hedge fund job)

Tony HsiehZappos CEO, Link Exchange Co-Founder (quit his “unfulfilling and boring” day job at Oracle soon after joining straight from Harvard)

Mikkel Svane – ZenDesk Co-Founder (wanted more than his dreary consultant job)

“On day 1 of my real job at Oracle, I was shown my desk and told what my ongoing tasks and responsibilities would be. All I had to do was run a couple of tests every day. It took about five minutes to set up a test, and then about three hours for the automated test to run, during which time I would just be sitting around and waiting for the test to finish. So I could only run two or three tests a day at the most. I also realized that nobody was tracking what time I came in or left the office. In fact, I don’t think anyone really even knew who I was.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO (extract from “Delivering Happiness”)

The above 4 individuals have all gone on to create huge, high-profile companies. In the world of startup, they are celebrities. However, there is a problem here. Whilst “celebrity” in any form has it’s glamour, these people can be difficult for the average person to relate to.

OK, so let’s look at some other impressive individuals, a bit less celebrity and a bit more relatable:

Rob Symington & Dom Jackman – Escape The City Founders (quit their unfulfilling Big 4 Management Consultancy job)

Gretchen Rubin – Author, Blogger & Speaker, Founder at GretchenRubin.com (Yale graduate, quit her successful law career)

Leo Babauta – Blogger, Journalist & Author, Founder at ZenHabits.net (quit his day job to become a full-time blogger; impressively, this income supports himself, his wife and his 6 children – all living in San Francisco)

Pippa Murray – Pip & Nut Founder (having taken a change in direction from her career)
These are all real people who all had conventional day jobs, and went on to create extraordinary things – and a more exciting and fulfilling life for themselves in the process.

All of these individuals had an impressive education and got “good grades” – but went on to create a fulfilling life in spite of, rather than due to, their academic education. We are neither defined by our grades nor the university that we went to.

If anything, these people took a step away from the path their formal education had led them onto, in order to step onto a new and more exciting path.

This post originally appeared here.

School 21: A look inside “the school of the 21st century”

School21 first appeared on my radar in October 2015, when two of it’s pupils (Year 8, I believe) kicked off Virgin’s Disruptors event “The Future of Education”, by interviewing Richard and Sam Branson on stage. Judging by how confident and articulate the pair were, I was not surprised to hear that “oracy” is at the heart of the curriculum there.

Soon after that, I got in touch with one of the School’s founders Ed Fidoe (who had also been there on the day), met him for a drink in East London, and was put onto a wait-list for an open morning there. Since the School opened it’s doors just a couple of years ago, interest has snowballed to say the least.

And understandably so. This place really does do things differently, rather than merely claim to be different.

I would hazard a guess that School21 is one of perhaps a dozen schools (if that) in the UK who are actually re-inventing education.

On a Monday morning in January 2016 my wait was over. The Open Morning consisted of a whistle-stop tour — which included a handy peek into school assembly — short presentations by 4 staff members there, and a glimpse into a couple of primary and secondary lessons.

Here’s what makes School21 unique:

1. Oracy is at the heart of the school

It has been found that the average school pupil utters just 4 words in lessons in any given school day. School21 believes that speaking is as important as reading and writing, and that every young person should be able to hold their own and freely offer their opinion — with the confidence to do so. From assembly to the classroom, it is clear that oracy is taken very seriously, and embedded in the ethos there.

2. Year groups and class sizes are small

There are just 75 in each year group, such that any single teacher, or student within a year group, can really get to know everyone (something to do with the limited number of deep social relationships we can physically build at any given point — there is science behind this). In comparison, my own school year group consisted of around 140 — though I recognised each face (it would have been worrying if I didn’t after 7 years in secondary school!), there were many I barely exchanged a word with, let alone “knew”.

Small class sizes also mean lesser teacher:student ratio, which is a good thing for obvious reasons.

3. Pupils receive group and individual coaching

Though there wasn’t enough time to dwell on this more, School21’s pupils receive regular coaching. The advantages of coaching in educational contexts is being demonstrated in Australia and the US, with highly encouraging outcomes emerging, and I have no doubt that the pupils here will benefit too.

4. Pupils sit in circles, rather than rows

This is to represent democracy and equality. We saw this in practice during the assembly. Small groups sat in circles, with the teacher amongst them — it seemed to work, and definitely had less of a ‘teacher is the authority’, ‘pupil is inferior’ feel to it. Headteacher Oli De Botton described how one can leave the circle, but has to apologise to the group before re-entering. #camaraderie

5. Assemblies are interactive

For Science Week, the topic of discussion (yes, discussion! No rambling headteacher, singing hymns, nor pupils struggling to keep bleary eyes open…) was around someone who had recently died whilst partaking in a trial for a new medical drug. In pairs, pupils stood in two rows and faced one another; the teacher leading the assembly would pose questions and statement for them to discuss in their pairs, across from one another. One such statement to critique on the day was something along the lines of: “It is fair to test drugs on animals, as the overall benefit gained is greater than the harm caused.” After each discussion, one row would move along so that pairings were constantly renewed.

A couple of observations I drew whilst being able to wander around and observe:

A) These kids were not shy! Save for one or two of a quieter disposition, most were more than happy to talk to one another
B) Levels of engagement were very high — especially for an assembly!
C) The teacher leading the assembly was incredibly passionate and enthusiastic
D) The pupils weren’t at all fazed by having a group of visitors wandering around and listening in on their discussions/debates (I supposed that they must be used to visitors). Either way, this was also impressive.

6. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is adopted, where complimentary topics from two separate subjects are blended

Having read about the use of this in America in particular, where there seems to be more alternative/new-age schools like School21, I was looking forward to seeing PBL in action. Teachers and classes for two subjects team up and explore a theme as a whole — it might be maths and science, for example, or art and drama.

The end goal is to produce something of real value that is then exhibited to the world.

This work is critiqued by experts — from artists to documentary makers to Holocaust survivors — relevant to that particular project. At the end of each project, pupils will stand in front of their work as it is exhibited to the public. Knowing this, we were told that they often take pride in their work and are motivated to produce it to a high quality — especially having to stand in front of it and answer questions if need be, not to mention critiqued by actual experts!

Impressively, teachers still manage to cover the syllabus for their respective subjects (understandably, not all teaching is done by PBL — subjects are also taught in the traditional standalone manner).

Joe, one of the friendly teachers who we heard from, talked us through the blended learning at the School. Interestingly, he had previously been a cynic but had now been converted. As Joe described, “It is about shifting the focus from me — the teacher — to the outside world. That way, they (the pupils) can see the whole point of what they’re learning — they are seeing it applied in the real world.” I suspect that School21 are onto something here.

7. Failure is viewed with a different lens

Around the school, various works of creation and art are displayed. Refreshingly, we are also allowed to see early drafts before the final piece of work. It is through encouraging perseverance that pupils, even the youngest, can learn and see how improvement can be made through practice. A fine example of Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” theory in action here, and a fantastic way to build an entrepreneurial frame of mind — one that will be ever crucial in the 21st century world of work.

8. Wellbeing is at the heart of the curriculum

Hurrah. Drawing on recent findings from positive psychology, wellbeing is one of the key components there too. Mindfulness is also being incorporated at the school. Development of the whole child is thus encouraged — again, ever-needed in the midst of increasing rates of mental ill health (stress, anxiety, and depression) which, ironically, is propagated at most schools due to the intense pressure of exams and expectation to ‘succeed’, which the UK’s youth are subjected to from far too young an age.

So there you have it. It’s quite difficult to convey everything into mere words and bullet points on a page. School21’s pupils are motivated, engaged and enthusiastic — as well as confident and articulate. All of this is especially impressive, given that a significant portion of the students come from underprivileged backgrounds.

From walking around the school, it is quite clear that staff and students have a special thing going on there.

Perhaps one of the most important things to take away: School21 is encouraging it’s pupils to create actual value out in the real world, rather than merely pass exams — and exams which are becoming less relevant, given the ready access of information on any topic from any device, wherever you are in the world.

By the time our current primary school students become job seeking, it is estimated that a staggering 65% of jobs that will exist at that point in time, do not currently. All indications are signaling that the coming years will see us move further towards a world of autonomy and self-direction, with the rise of the independent freelancer (employee) as well as the entrepreneur (employer).

As Daniel Pink describes, we are now in the Conceptual Age of high-touch and right-brained thinking, rather than the Information Age of left-brained activity.

School21 is preparing it’s pupils for a future that isn’t here yet.

→ You can find out more about exactly how it is doing so, and get more of a feel for the place, here.

 

This article first appeared here.