Every child has enormous potential for learning and is capable of progress. If this is not happening, it is most probably because we, the childrens’ teachers, have not yet found the right keys to their hearts and minds, writes Eva Hoffman

Extensive research carried out in many parts of the world has shown with all clarity that employers are now looking for different qualities in their employees than they used to in the not so distant past. Most of the jobs our children will be doing haven’t yet been invented! What businesses now look for in the people they employ, is their ability to:

  • Deal effectively with change
  • Keep learning new things and know how to learn
  • Think independently, both logically and creatively

All this indicates that if we wish to educate people in a way which will prepare them for life in the 21st Century, we need to address the new urgencies facing education and ask ourselves a few vital questions:

  • Does our system prepare young people for dealing effectively with change?
  • Are we doing our best to ensure they have confidence in their ability to learn and that they acquire appropriate tools for learning?
  • Do we do enough to develop in our children flexible and creative ways of thinking?

And if we are not satisfied with our answers, what are we going to do about it? There is some exciting learning to be done: the time has come for out education system to lead the way in the domain of learning and get ahead of business and sports professionals.

New approaches to learning (and inevitably teaching!) have come to life, with a vast pool of new scientific research: some findings have confirmed what many good teachers have intuitively known and done for years. Other discoveries have dramatically changed our understanding of the ways people learn and what teachers need to do to support learning.

Researches, fascinated with the awesome diversity of the ways we learn, have been coming to it from a number of different angles. The more you learn about the ways people learn the more obvious it will become that they are all in some way interconnected.

Eva Hoffman PhD has been a teacher and a teachereducator for over 30 years. Her doctoral dissertation was one of the earliest pieces of research focused on accelerated learning. Winner of the Family Learning Millennium Award and a member of the Millennium Awards Fellowship, Eva runs development and training programmes for teachers, workshops for parents, educational consultancy, as well as Learn to Learn skills courses for young learners. TEX

First published in Teaching Expertise magazine, issue 1 Autumn 2003