Independent schools have been advised to revamp their teaching to accommodate pupils’ “multiple intelligences”, kinaesthetic learning, and an unpredictable job market with roles that may not yet exist.
The recommendations come from Rohit Talwar, a futurist and business consultant, who addressed the annual meeting of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) in St Andrews this afternoon.
Speaking ahead of his presentation to leaders of some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious private schools, Mr Talwar said that the education system appeared to be “going back to the 1950s” and that this “just doesn’t work for the UK population today”.
He called for teaching styles to change, saying: “We have multiple learning intelligences, not just reading and writing.
“People learn through kinaesthetic mechanisms, they learn through audio, they learn through doing, so we have to recognise and reflect that.”
HMC chairman Christopher King, told TES that he supported Mr Talwar’s call for a shake-up of approaches to teaching and learning.
He invited Mr Talwar to address delegates so that he could give school leaders "a steer" on how to adapt and prepare students for life in a rapidly changing economy, he added.
Mr King, headmaster of Leicester Grammar School, wants to challenge schools to “innovate”. They should “seriously consider whether the curriculum they have at the moment is preparing children for the world they’re going into”, he said.
Mr Talwar told journalists: “At the moment there’s a view that we’ll train people to go into computer programming or to be biologists, but we’re not sure that the jobs will be there when they come out.
“So we need to make sure we’re also teaching them, as well as the specific content, a set of life skills such as learning how to learn, problem-solving, collaborative working [and] design thinking.”
He pointed to research suggesting that between 30 per cent and 80 per cent of all the jobs that exist today will disappear in the next 10-20 years as companies increasingly invest in automation, warning of an impending "huge disconnect".
Mr Talwar , who helps businesses to explore what the world might look like in five to 50 years, said that in the future people “might well have 40 jobs…in 10 different careers” during their lives.
Pupils should learn “not just the content knowledge, but also a set of other skills that will let them continuously relearn for whatever they’re going to do, quickly”, he argued.
The futurist recommended that schools teach meditation and help students to understand the importance of sleep in order to improve results.