Darren is a teacher at a cutting-edge, international school in 2030. Read the transcript from his video mail to a colleague.
Dear Hilary Tippet,
As you will be aware the staff had a holographic meeting yesterday ahead of the new term starting. Joan even managed to join us from Santorini – though I think she wasn’t expecting the tech to work as she was in her bikini on the beach, with a martini in hand! Nevertheless, great to see even the more conventional teachers are getting on-board with the new systems.
The meeting was to discuss what we are most looking forward to over the next year, as well as any concerns we have, both for us, and for the students. I thought it would be worth just pinging across a quick videomail to clue you in to our deliberations before you address the staff later this week.
In terms of what we are really looking forward to:
- The departments with novel technology are particularly excited to get to work this year. Biology staff for example, have been working hard over the summer and finally think they have mastered the live hologram dissection, so students all across the world should be able to smell, touch and interact as the teacher leads the class. Sounds great for learning to me!
- From the students’ perspective there is an overwhelming feeling that this new ability for them to guide their learning is very powerful; I received a few emails from students over the summer expressing how excited they are to be able to take classes across a whole new range of subjects and to have more control over their learning. In particular the new ‘sustainability-in-action’ module has raised much excitement – perhaps it would be worth adding in some more environment/sustainability focused classes in the future.
- Additionally, the enhanced focus on mental and physical wellbeing for both students and teachers has gone down very well. Laura (the new head of mental wellbeing) demonstrated the new yoga set-up. I have never felt so relaxed in my life – we were literally transported to Phool Chatti (at the bottom of the Himalayas) and it felt as though the rest of the world didn’t exist. This will be very helpful for students – particularly during exams and in-the-field learning weeks.
However, there were three main concerns from the staff that came from this meeting (they often respond directly to some of the limitations on what we are most excited about):
- The now very international nature of our school does raise some concerns. I think this is most prevalent in the newer departments; sustainability, world development and lifestyle departments have raised concerns about laws differing from country to country affecting what they are allowed to teach. Perhaps some clarity on this ahead of the new year would help put their minds at ease.
- Student guided learning is something both students and teachers seem to feel passionately about, but we have received some complaints from parents already. Most notably, Eileen Wiggins (chemistry department) received a home-visit from Gordon Atkinson (Ellie’s mother) who berated her for an hour on how the new schedule meant that Ellie would miss out on things ‘fundamental to her development’. I think these complaints were expected but it may be worth training teachers on parent interactions or even holding a parent meeting to explain the plan thoroughly.
- Whilst all this virtual learning has allowed us to gain knowledge and connect with others in ways we haven’t before, there are concerns from staff about some students slipping through the cracks. The new mental and physical wellbeing programme, as well as the increasing independence we are giving to students, is fantastic, but I do worry the lack of in-person contact may lead to loneliness and disengagement for certain pupils. Is there a way to set-up international hubs where students can meet once a month for example?
Hope you are having a fantastic time on the moon – I know all of the students (and teachers, though Andy Newman in particular) can’t wait to experience the amazing things you did whilst you were up there. There is a rumour going round that you have brought back Moonmelon for us all to taste – the students seem to think it is brainfood that will help them improve their grades without any additional work – sounds laughable to me.
If you want a quick meeting following this email, just get in contact with my automated PA system, HoloPaul – I am looking pretty free over the next few days, though my husband does want me to update our GroceryBot because they keep packing the ice-cream and frozen peas in the cupboard instead of the freezer and I’m sure you can imagine the mess that leaves!
Enjoy the rest of your trip,