A broader view

20th June 1997 at 01:00
The article on Professor David Hargreaves's ideas ("Guru predicts classroom exodus", TES, May 30) should provoke stimulating discussion among education professionals. I fear the general response might be the opposite. Our experience of predictions, particularly long-term ones, tend to make us dismissive of them. Crystal-ball-gazing does not have a good track record.

This should not distract us from the real importance of Professor Hargreaves's ideas, however. He was not describing immutable paths to the future, but underscoring the point that there will be significant changes that challenge the structures we currently take for granted. The impact of new technology will force change whether we like it or not. The digital revolution is just round the corner and when the majority of homes can access curriculum materials and interactive learning from the Internet, schools might be struggling to define new roles for themselves.

Teaching is a demanding profession which requires close attention to what is happening now in our classrooms. We must find time, however, to raise our eyes above the exercise books and scan the horizon for the developments that will influence the way we work. Schools have development plans, but there are few that will try to predict educational needs in 10 years' time.

Major industries find it necessary to preserve their commercial competitiveness by anticipating future market conditions. As product development can take a long time, they think well ahead. So should schools and colleges. Teachers and curriculum managers must begin to imagine change and create a school culture that gives the strategic capacity to adapt to whatever actually will happen in the future.

PAUL STEPHENS-WOOD John Cabot College Kingswood Bristol

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