Saturday, 17 May 2014

A Glimpse of the future Tara O'Neill

A Glimpse of the future

As Educators we talk about how we cannot predict the future playing field of life but how we can give students the skills they need to be adaptable, future thinking citizens.   As educators we think about how we can prepare our learners born in 2014 for their life in 2032.  We wonder what technology will look like? What jobs will they be doing? Some of us wonder if there will be a world left, such is the pollution and attitude to consumption we see around us?

Every week a writing group of twelve, 5 and 6 year olds, take their published writing over the paddock to the pre-school.  The children read their writing to the slightly smaller learners sitting on the mat looking up with such admiration at the carefully printed story and beautiful artwork.  Then once finished, a five year old girl, takes her two year old sister’s hand and heads out to the sandpit.  I watch as all age groups play, take turns, discuss, laugh, run, learn how to get on together, learning together seems so natural.

In the Early Years Learning Community where I teach, I watch as 10 year olds, co-create with 5 years olds.   They get frustrated with each other at times.  They are learning to teach and learn together, to take turns and support each other.

At home, my 6 and 7 year old play, sometimes remembering to ask for a turn.  Sometimes snatching, sometimes complaining loudly because of the way they were treated by the other sister. In this environment, they are learning how to communicate successfully with each other.  These are skills necessary for the future.

Then, my 16 year old comes into the kitchen, so excited. “Mum, I just Skyped a person from Palestine.  I was teaching him Hebrew, he was teaching me Arabic.  We both speak English.”  My 16 year old has been learning Hebrew since she was 11 years old.  She has now started to learn Arabic.  The person from Palestine is a dentist who needs to learn Hebrew to go to work in Israel.  The website they share is a language learning site – “”.   She told him about New Zealand, about Pavlova, about the history of New Zealand.

This just left me with my mouth open.  Wow – right there, that is the future!
The playground has grown substantially so that instead of crossing a field you cross countries.   If this generation talk and learn from each other, somewhere along the line, one of them will become a leader on the world stage, and remember playing in the sandpit of online learning languages and maybe, this will make a difference to outcomes during times of peace and war.

I know, you are thinking, how do I know my daughter is safe? 
We have talked with her about safety regularly.  She has attended courses on cyber safety.  And I say to you, how do you know your children are safe walking down the road or going to uncles house for a visit?   We don’t ever know for sure, but we do what we can to give our children the knowledge and confidence to speak up and get help when they need.  

As Educators, we cannot let our fear, stop the Future learning from happening.
Instead, let us enable our learners to learn.  Let us spend time teaching them how to be safe, let us let them connect. Imagine the learning of being able to explain the history lesson you just read  to someone on the other side of the world.  Imagine the lessons learnt through communicating with a person from another culture.  Imagine the future of a world where people care about each other no matter where they live.

Imagine. Our students aren’t imagining they are doing it.  They are the future.

By Tara O’Neill

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