23 Jun 2017

A Message from the Head of Lindfield

This week the Year 6 boys have been starting the Exhibition process. This is a process where collaborative groups of boys inquire into an issue that they are curious and passionate about. They will then go through an inquiry model that involves finding information through multiple sources and then they will formulate questions that will drive further exploration.  The aim is for the boys to draw conclusions that lead to action which will make a difference in this area of interest. The skills developed through this inquiry cycle are important for a transition into a future workplace that needs people with skills to create and innovate and solve problems through teams as automation takes the place of many of our existing jobs.

I have extracted an article in full from the Marshall memo which presents more reasoning as to why we need to push an educational agenda that moves further than standardised test preparation.

David Brooks on ‘The Human Skills Most Needed in the Computer Age’

In this important New York Times column, David Brooks lists several mental skills that will be less valued as computers become increasingly powerful and prevalent in the workplace:

  Having a great memory;

  Being an A student by gathering lots of information and regurgitating it back on tests;

  Doing any mental activity that involves following a set of rules.

But which human skills will be more important? Here are some specific abilities he believes will be of great value in the age of brilliant machines:

• Having what Brooks calls “a voracious explanatory drive, an almost obsessive need to follow their curiosity… diving into and trying to make sense of these bottomless information oceans”.

• Being quick to recognize an interesting event and get the word out to others, perhaps on Twitter;

• Being able to grasp the essence of one thing, then the essence of something quite different, and put them together to create something entirely new.

• Being able to visualise data and present it in vivid graphic form;

• Having an extended time horizon and strategic discipline – an overall sense of direction and a conceptual frame. “In a world of online distractions, the person who can maintain a long obedience toward a single goal, and who can filter out what is irrelevant to that goal, will obviously have enormous worth,” he says.

• Possessing a Goldilocks level of team leadership – not too controlling and not too loose. “One of the oddities of collaboration is that tightly knit teams are not the most creative,” says Brooks. “Loosely bonded teams are, teams without a few domineering presences, teams that allow people to think alone before they share results with the group. So a manager who can organise a decentralised network around a clear question, without letting it dissipate or clump, will have enormous value.”

“The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalised, or neutral,” concludes Brooks. “It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.”

At Lindfield, we want caring, passionate young men who are engaged members of the world around them. Boys who will be able to do this are boys who embody many of the attributes of the IB learner profile. These are boys who are open-minded, who can take risks in their thinking, who have the ability to synthesize information from different sources in order to create and innovate. Boys who have emotional intelligence to be able to work with all people, not just people who think and act like they do.  The future is exciting for our boys, especially as we are equipping them for a creative and innovative way of working and existing.

Extracted from Marshal Memo 523 ‘David Brooks on the Human Skills Most Needed in the Computer Age’ The New York Times, Feb. 4, 2014




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