Education does not exist in a vacuum. We do what we do not for its own sake, but as the key process of transformation of the child into the adult in which we equip, empower, and enable them to grow, make progress, achieve, and succeed. We do this so that the most formative period of education in a lifetime of learning – the school years – might genuinely become a rehearsal for a life that will be both well-lived and worthwhile.
A life of purpose needs to be a life that wrestles between the inner world of realisation of the self and the external world of replication of the capacities which are expected of us if we are to make a positive contribution to those around us. We strive for belonging, relationship, service and vocation along with what we at a School for tomorrow. and Game Changers call The Pathway to Excellence. The answers for this, as we know, are never fully articulated nor are they ever permanent. Yet much of what is meaningful to us is often a living history that is passed down through generations.
Where we come from in life can tell us a lot about where we are going. There is a narrative that we weave about the transformation from being to doing to becoming. History, geography, food, clothing, language, music, religion, literature, the arts – all these things matter not just in themselves, but also how they connect us to our sense of our identity. They help us to express the subjectivity of our humanity and its longing for belonging – our voice, how we might act in the world to fulfil our potential – our agency, and how we might connect both of these as we advocate for all that is good and right about where we came from, where we are now and where we might be headed as we tell the story of us from yesterday to today to tomorrow.
This calls on all of us in schools to adopt an approach to cultural fit and understanding which contemplates what we might become and respectful of those whose legacy has been passed down to us – how we identify with and respond to the beliefs, culture and honourable traditions of our social groupings while also connecting with and learning from those from other communities.
We humans are, by and large, social beings. We are meant to be in the company of others for significant periods of time. Each one of us has a part to play in how well we relate to each other, how we forge a common purpose and build the culture of people, place, planet, and practice.
Each one of us has a part to play in how well we relate to each other, how we forge a common purpose and build the culture of people, place, planet, and practice.
a School for tomorrow’s aspiration for a reimagined learning ecosystem honours the new social contract of education, this notion of creating today’s learning for tomorrow’s world. It recognises the fundamental importance of the contribution that student voice can make to each and all of us.
Helping each student to locate and express what they believe to be their own voice (even if this is not the “final” or “complete” version of this voice) is a key aspect of our contemporary educational task. How else can we respond to the imperative that every student is home to a unique life unless we help each and every student
- Connect with community to discover their identities,
- Grow in the civic character of belonging through respect, civility, and courtesy,
- Tell a story with a voice that is both authentic to themselves and that also honours their obligations to others?
Young people who find their own voice in supportive school environments are more likely to develop a confident and authentic voice, a capacity to act with transformational agency in the world, and a vocational willingness to advocate for and lead others as servants of something greater than themselves. As Adriano and I maintain in our recent book*,
We must have hope and we must have love – and we must have the character required to see the journey through.
Game Changers: Leading Today’s Learning For Tomorrow’s World (Hawker Brownlow Education 2022) p192
We can test the relevance and quality of an education in this construct by asking the questions first posed to us by our Game Changers Series Two guest Pernille Ripp**: whose voice is missing? How is that impacting our understanding of the world?
From its inception in 2010, our research institute CIRCLE - The Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity and Leadership in Education has been trying to ask and answer questions like this. It has engaged in a significant body of educational research and development with schools, tertiary bodies, and other educational institutions, motivated by a clear purpose to equip, empower and enable schools to help achieve better outcomes for more learners.
Our CIRCLE Global Educational Research Program*** includes ground-breaking developments in our understanding about the character of an excellent education with a particular focus on:
- Strategy, leadership, and governance in future-fit schools
- A whole education for character, competency, and wellness
- Teaching for character
- High-performing schools
Over the coming weeks, we’re going to explore the major findings of this global research and development into the character of an excellent education and high-performing schools and its influence on an education for voice through our a School for tomorrow. Tell Your Story publications and our Game Changers podcast series. Dr Phil Cummins will also unpack the why, what, and how of amplifying voice in your school community through the lens of our six global standards of high-performing schools – culture, leadership, learning, performance, strategy, and systems & operations.
We’re excited to share this thinking about this imperative for an education for voice with you.
We can’t wait.
Phil and Adriano
*You can purchase your copy of Game Changers: Leading Today’s Learning For Tomorrow’s World here: https://www.hbe.com.au/hb1338.htm
** You can listen to Pernille Ripp’s Game Changers episode here; https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/game-changers/id1503430745?i=1000475158201
***You can learn more about our CIRCLE Global Educational Research Network here: https://www.aschoolfortomorrow.com/research-network