Suburban Sandcastles

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED - Film and Conversation.

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I was recently invited to be an exhibitor at a local event. I don’t do a lot of events because they tend to be big loud, disposable and gimmicky; not really my bag and not what I want my business to be associated with. This was different. This was a really well run, small scale event at a lovely public theatre, but more than that, it was about education. The attendees were largely educators and parents. We watched a documentary called “Most Likely to Succeed.” If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do! It’s based on the United States’ outdated education system.

Granted, the US does not have exactly the same system as we do here in Australia, but our systems shares the ideology that we are preparing students to do well on tests in primary school, so they can do well on tests in secondary school, so they can do well on tests at university, so they can get a job. Our governments bring in standardised testing and reforms which all seem to have the same focus - do well on the test.

What is not often discussed is exactly where this film hit home. The world has changed.  The type of jobs available (or less available than they have ever been) have changed. Technology and automation are eliminating jobs that have been traditionally done by people.

More tech, less jobs, more unemployment or underemployment.

Underemployment hit home with me! I had a wonderful job at the conservatorium where I studied, that was until a complete restructure occurred and my conservatorium closed. I was made redundant. Although I had a wonderful job history, a degree full of HDs, glowing references and a can do attitude, I was unemployed. After jumping from this to that I ended up as a temp in a mail-room for an enormous company. I had gone from chairing meetings, running whole study programs, concert series and large scale events, as well as coordinating teams and budgets, to sorting mail and hating my existence! This blog is not about me, but I want you to know that I get the underemployment thing and know how quickly things can change from great to very crappy.

I know many highly intelligent university graduates who struggle to find a job in their qualified field. They’ve done everything that society told them to do and worked hard to do it, but they are still underemployed. They’re working in entry level retail instead of management. They’re working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They have the piece of paper but they don’t have the skills to be the best candidate when there are SO many candidates after SO few positions.

This film talks about an education revolution, and they’ve started it at a school called High Tech High. They don’t know if it will work; it’s too early to say. They do know the the current model doesn’t work and that doing something is much better than doing nothing. This school’s goal is not just to have children memorise arbitrary facts, it is to empower them with life skills to make them able to learn and be successful in whatever their chosen field is. Not to dictate how a child should discover things, but to provide opportunities for them to discover things for themselves. To be resourceful. To learn how to learn. To be able to try and fail and try again. To be resilient.

Each of the skills that they spoke about - every single one of them - is a focus of our music classes. I knew I loved what we do, but it’s so amazing to have it verbalised by people I’ve never met, from a place I’ve never been. I’m excited to help children practice creativity, to explore and interact with their world as it makes sense to them, to be collaborative and empathetic. To share. To be kind. To be self aware. I love it when they teach me something new - a new sound, a new way to move, a new way to think.

If you have the opportunity to see this film, I highly recommend you do. Then go and have some big conversations with everyone you know, who thinks anything at all about education.

It is no longer ‘enough’ to educate the future generation to do well on a test. We need to educate them to think. That’s right, to THINK! Free thinking on a grand scale has historically never been rewarded. It has ALWAYS been about fitting in, about conforming. Here’s to a future of empathetic, innovative free thinkers. To logical and critical thinkers. To children who grow into adults that are hungry to learn. To children with grit who believe in themselves. These children will be the people who change the world for the better.

Thank you Suburban Sandcastles for welcoming me along to your wonderful event.

by Julie Murray
Sounds Like This Owner and Teacher