Youth, Education & Technology

tajwarSpending time with Prem highlighted a different area to the world of business and politics. This involved creating a sense of social action. I had the opportunity to gain understanding in marketing strategies and the rationale behind it as well as attending a business meeting with Prem which emphasized the need for sharp negotiation skills. These are just a few particular examples of activities and ventures experienced with Prem, that underpinned several transferrable skills which I will no doubt implement and further develop on my path to success.

Now it was time to meet and engage with Southwark residents. With all the valuable training and advice I’ve learnt through Prem in mind, I successfully managed to muster further interest and engage with residents about the forthcoming campaign. There was no real surprise when many claimed to be disillusioned by the main parties. However, there was one point/policy –that had me thinking. Education.

Young people and parents were either concerned about the lack of spaces within local schools, the quality of education and, of course, the cost of Higher Education. Prem emphasized the importance of ensuring local needs being met, albeit; through further schools being built and ensuring local children gain admittance to local schools. There is also, however, a further point to be considered, the quality of the education system. As a current Law and Business Administration student, and a student who has experienced teaching at an independent school and later, a state academy sixth form, the experience of different ‘levels’ of quality in education, is one that I have a rounded experience in (mind you not as much as Prem, who has 11 years of higher education experience alone!). Are we doing enough to maximize every child’s potential? How can we do better with our current resources?

The main parties tend to have a knack of primarily focusing on economic reform (be it, stamp duty or mansion tax etc. and rightly so, in some respects, considering the level of deficit we face) but now it’s time to also bring education reform to the forefront, as a way of changing students’ attitude and approach to learning, and ultimately; improving employment prospects and driving the economy.

Many assume education reform starts and are biased towards the school, educators and resources. The problem, arguably, lies within this assumption, as learning primarily starts at home, and we should therefore engage with parents/guardians in order to highlight this. Providing and utilizing clear individualized information to students, teachers and parents on the standards required compared to the standard students are currently at, will be the best way to build intrinsic motivation required for students to remain engaged with their studies, while allowing teachers to target and meet the needs of a diverse group of students.

In order to escalate this further, we need to recognize the climate we now live in. And that is one, which has seen increasingly rising technological advances. Well, technology has evolved, why hasn’t the education system? I am not stating that technology in the classroom is the panacea, but perhaps we can leverage technology in the classroom, within the context of a quality education, as a way of supporting teachers so students gain the best education, rather than scattering iPad’s in nearly every classroom with no real educational purpose.

But how can technology transform education? Delivering learning has to change. We need to offer a more personal and contextual approach that enhances students’ learning experience. And technology can aid this when applied in certain aspects of learning, in order to help students develop a better understanding. For instance, the most common and popular way to achieve this is to, introduce educational games that reinforce relevant theories and content but enhances student interest/experience, rather than acting as a deterrent. During my time as head boy at sixth form, I helped to drive change by implementing a 24/7 online learning platform that could be accessed at home. Gone were the days of students saying they didn’t have relevant files or work.

Well thought technology can not only help aid teachers and enhance learning experience but also increase innovation and creativity. The Guardian have commented about the potential of children as young as 5 being taught how to code as part of computing lessons within the curriculum. While this offers students to learn a valuable skill, it also reflects the nature of the digital environment kids are now surrounded by. Kids from a young age are now given their own tablets and show no signs of struggle when using it. This offers schools the chance to tailor teaching and learning to one that suits kids, rather than the sole traditional way of a teacher voicing the content, whereby kids struggle to actively learn, understand and concentrate.

Schools should therefore, place emphasis on creativity and enterprising spirit (not conformity), as this will help foster uniqueness, rather than treating the education process as a conveyer belt. Whereby employers use it to make generalizations about the suitability of students as potential employees. By embracing students’ creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, you are not confined to a certain way of thinking, and that freedom of thought will help lead to disruptive innovation. As a result, eventually resulting in further high impact entrepreneurs and high growth companies (which can accelerated when students are proactive and seek experience/advice from successful entrepreneurs). With continual greater innovation being embedded into students’ studies, we will help create great minds and with those great minds – we can offer innovative solutions to social problems.

I hope this Oren Yakobovich quote resonates with you like it did with me; “the most effective way to create social change is to work within the communities themselves”. This needs to start at our schools, where we nurture innovative and entrepreneurial minds as a way of challenging and inspiring young people.

Thanks Prem, for inspiring and motivating me to continue improving and to be extremely successful.

Remember – the good thing about success is that anybody can achieve it!

Note: this article isn’t meant to echo Tony Blair’s ‘Education, Education, Education’ speech, but to instead, ignite an overdue debate on student learning that engages the nation. Achieving this will help result in better leaders of tomorrow.

Written by Tajwar Rahman

Tajwar is currently studying his BA Law and Business Administration at University of Kent. Previously, he was Head Boy at Harris Academy East Dulwich.