2016 Principal's Blog_March

Recently, I have been inspired by the work of one of our THS parents who has been researching a chapter for the latest book by John Mauldin, looking at the impact of new technology on our world in the next twenty years. This fascinating work has revealed the incredible impact that technology is having on our lives and the future careers of our children.

When you consider that computers are able to do the work of a paralegal in a fraction of the time, it implies that there will be an enormous impact on the legal profession in coming years. It also raises the question about how wise we might be in advising our young people to pursue a career in law.

This is a question that we need to be asking about a number of professions that are currently under threat of automation...and they are not necessarily the areas that you might expect.

The following link is, one estimation, of the 100 jobs most under threat and the 100 jobs that are not: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2642880/Table-700-jobs-reveals-professions-likely-replaced-robots.html

There is also the case of IBM Watson, a supercomputer that has conquered the art of illogical thought and idiosyncratic language...something that computers have not been able to do until now. The following link is a brief overview of Watson’s capability but you will see more in the film “Most Likely To Succeed” screening at Turramurra High School on 31st March from 5.30 pm (please RSVP via the school email)

The ‘Watson’ technology has allowed the creation of robots who have taken over the service industry. Neo is another version of this technology and it greets customers at a bank. Neo is able to respond to questions in any language, direct customers and most mind blowing of all; it can read your facial expression and respond accordingly.

The implications for our students is enormous and it is imperative that we make changes to the way we all think about education because students are very much influenced by the messages they receive from their family and the broader community.

At Turramurra High School, we take very seriously, the vision of creating future-focused learners. Our latest project in this area has the lofty aim of transforming future teaching practice through a project currently known as the THS Hub school project. We are one of eleven schools in NSW who have been paired with a University and tasked with the job of reimagining the future of initial teacher education at a university level.

Our partner university for this project is UTS and our Hub school project proposes a radical model which seeks to eventually embed the initial teacher education program into the school. This means that school teachers and university academics will be co-designing, co-delivering and co-assessing pre-service teachers who are literally “learning on the job”.

In 2016, we have recruited ten students from the UTS Masters of Teaching program to complete their degree in this ‘embedded mode’. This is very much a project which is evolving organically and places all of us outside our comfort zone but this is vital to innovation and change. Sticking with “what we know” will not provide the best education for our students and will not prepare them for the world where they will need to be flexible, agile and collaborative. They will need to solve some of the biggest problems that the world has ever faced and they will need to think creatively and critically to be able to do this.

I am certainly not suggesting that this is something that is easy to achieve and it will require a shift from a system level to eventually move education out of the industrial model for which it was designed. However, in my experience, a small but insistent voice and a school level project which really makes a difference will eventually spread and have impact on the wider system. The work that we are doing is exciting and uncomfortable but it is imperative for the future of education and for the young people that we serve.

Stephanie McConnell - Principal