Learning for the future

20 September 2017

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

Several years ago, schools in the Diocese of Parramatta started to make changes to the way that learning happened. I know that some of these changes didn’t go down well with all parents. Some became worried that the learning and learning spaces would be very different from their own experiences when they were at school, prompting them to wonder if their child was being disadvantaged in any way.

Schools everywhere – Catholic, Independent and Government – have realised that the world is changing and schools need to change with it. One parent asked me once why no-one was interested in making ‘normal’ schools anymore! It’s a fair question. Most of us are products of a traditional model of schooling so it’s fair enough to ask the question: if it ain’t broke then why fix it?

The answer to that question is that the model is broken, and needs urgent fixing. The traditional model of schooling came from another time in history when were were designing and building steam engines not commercial spacecraft!

I find it interesting that parents are often willing to take risks and embrace changes to their careers, or move house or consider a major life change but are very conservative in their attitude towards schools for their children. Maybe part of this is because, as parents, we feel comfort knowing what is happening at our child’s school between 9.00am-3.00pm five days a week. Many parents have said they feel out of their depth when it comes to understanding what is being taught and how it is being taught when the learning and learning spaces are different from what they know or experienced.

From some parents, new ways of learning and teaching can look like the great unknown. To those parents I say that while it may look different, the learning that is happening in our schools is based on the best research, the best practice and what we do know about today’s world and today’s learners.

Our world has changed and continues to change. If schools are not changing with it, our young people will be left behind. For some parents, this will mean a leap of faith and being prepared to consider another way of thinking and another way of learning.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

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