As I put this article together just a week before the UN International Day of Education, teachers in England and Wales decided to strike for seven days across February and March. People I work with are wondering how they will yet again balance the demands of holding down their jobs and keeping their young children engaged at home during these days of action; “If trains weren’t enough, now it’s the teachers.”
I am not particularly supportive of any sort of strike action, but with nurses and teachers in the family I do sympathise with their plight. However, with so many extremes around the world right now, let’s also not lose sight of what we’ve got.
My web-search tells me “The UN International Day of Education is observed on January 24 every year. It looks at education from a broader perspective. The quality of education varies for children around the world, with millions still deprived of this basic human right. The day is created to campaign for better education reforms and improve access to education for all. It’s a day to celebrate and advocate for access to education.”
The sentiment that I want to pick up on is ‘improve access to education for all’ - this impacts us all. The rate of change in technology for healthcare provision, the processing of data, our methods of transportation, and our methods of communication are all still evolving at an incredible pace. This means there is more for us to learn not only in how we use these things but how we maintain them, protect them, and evolve them.
I left formal compulsory UK education more than 40 years ago but I have long come to appreciate that education and learning are for life. If you don’t continue to learn in today’s society you are potentially going backwards - time is marching on, new research is being conducted, new medical methods are being proven, new ways of recycling our rubbish are being commercialised, and new technologies are reducing our reliance fossil fuels. But none of this would happen without education.
Our XFE philosophy is to provide people with knowledge and information so they can make an informed choice about self-employment. At the heart of this is education. However, education is not about sitting in a classroom, it is about lifelong learning, a mind-set to challenge and search for answers. So, we provide the environment and the opportunities for this to happen. Yes, we have classroom experiences, but we also bring people together for peer-to-peer learning through networking and our masterclass series. Equally important is the challenge we give people to conduct market research and seek out examples of good websites they would like to replicate. These too are learning opportunities if the prospective business owner wants to take them.
So, whilst I’m not one for striking (I’ve crossed picket lines in my time), let’s not forget it is not a teacher’s responsibility for children or adults to learn. A teacher can create and manage a learning environment and good teachers will adapt and accommodate to the learner’s preferences, given the resources and time to do so. It is the learner’s own responsibility to learn.
In their early years, children learn more out of a classroom than they do in a classroom. What is different - given anyone’s situation - is what they learn, how quickly they learn, and the depth to which they learn. The education system puts some structure around what people can learn and how quickly they should learn it, but even the well-developed UK education system can only give us the basics in certain topics so there has to be a motivation and mind-set that means people continue to learn once they leave the education system.
For me, the International Day of Education has to be about lifelong learning and remembering that education requires people to want to learn. Learners have the right to education not matter their age!
UNESCO is dedicating the 2023 International Day of Education to all the girls and women in Afghanistan, who have been denied their right to learn, study and teach. Learn more: https://www.unesco.org/en/days/education/
Martin Wing, Chairman - X-Forces Enterprise
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