The View From My Study – 24th February
In the autobiographical poem Digging, Seamus Heaney reflects on how he broke the mould from the generations of men in his family before him who laboured with spades to sustain what they had. For Heaney, the world was different and his career implement was the pen. His work was arduous at times too but instead of digging for potatoes, he was digging for words, constantly seeking to create sustenance through his writing.
I recalled this poem one evening recently when I was sitting in the Seamus Heaney Library at The Bloomsbury Hotel in London. I was there for a discussion about education in schools for the Alpha Generation, the group who were born in c. 2006 (just after the births of the iPhone and Facebook) and who therefore receive all of their content through social media. My generation saw the world through television; 90s babies accessed content through the internet; today it is about social media and mobile devices. Just as Heaney reflected, the world has changed and we need to prepare children differently as a result.
A quick glance at the jobs market will indicate that the Alpha Generation will take on roles as UX Managers, Podcast Producers, Cloud Architects and Drone Operators. Some may even become social media influencers! Therefore, our role as educators is to give them the skills to adapt to the ever-changing workplace, whilst also keeping them broad-minded and diverse in a world that is in danger of becoming narrow.
The principles of AI are wonderful and many great things are developing to solve some of the world’s issues. However, if one is not careful, it can lead to lazy thinking and a lack of proper research and reasoning within individuals. Through regular digital choices, we create a digital profile, and from that we will be ‘fed’ information, products and content based on our choices. What soon happens then is that the media is guiding us and leading us along an ever-narrowing path, rather than the other way around where we are in charge and able to choose from other interests and content.
So what is the answer?
Reading. We must ensure the children keep reading and that they are exposed to a range of material. It is through reading that minds will be kept broad and future decisions will have a greater chance of being well-reasoned. We will celebrate World Book Day next Thursday and I am looking forward to it. I am proud of the fact the libraries at BG are popular havens for our pupils as they offer a rich source of knowledge and inspiration. I am pleased, too, that departments across the school are reviewing their material to ensure diversity in the content.
Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspective which in turn will lead to better decision-making, problem-solving and more innovative thinking. We have a diverse student community at Bilton Grange who are at the heart of the Alpha Generation and this will place them in a strong position as they enter the workplace to make informed decisions that will benefit the society around them, not just themselves or their employers.
So, keep reading everyone. (And preferably not on a screen. Except if you are reading this, of course!)
It will be busy tomorrow morning. HM Bacon Butties will be served from 8.15am after which the FAB meeting will take place in the Dining Room. Then, from 10am, we are holding an Open Morning for which over 50 families have registered. If I don’t see you, I wish you all a very good weekend.
Gareth Jones, Headmaster