Our children are more than the sum of their school grades. Behind every GCSE or SATs result lies a whole person with incalculable, untapped potential and myriad facets and capacities just waiting to be discovered.
The only limits on our potential are the self-prophesying myths peddled in school about our learning abilities, our intelligence and our capacity to make progress. What a child shows she knows in school is not an accurate measure of her lifelong learning ability or her human potential. Schools are for growing minds but nothing stifles growth like ranking or grading.
It’s not how smart you are that counts, it is how you are smart. Proficiency in the 3Rs of reading, remembering and regurgitating factual knowledge may get you an A*, but to thrive in adulthood you need deep-down-things that aren’t so easily measured – tacit knowledge gained through our senses, observations and social interactions. The good news is, we have all we need from an early age; and we need to redesign our schools so that our children can pursue their natural inclinations and in so doing find their self-worth.
There is nothing in adulthood that an adventurous, untrammelled childhood cannot prepare you for.
Andrew has spent twenty years teaching, leading and authoring in education. Still a headteacher, he continues to counter the calls for short-term, measurable outcomes with a cry for long-term gains in creativity, aspirational thinking and positive well-being. He is a champion of adventurous childhood and believes that the most secure adulthood is built on a childhood free from the pressures to prepare for being a grown up.
Shedding light on the ‘invisible curriculum’ in schools has been Andrew’s obsession throughout his teaching and writing career. He holds a BA (Hons) QTS and an MA in Creativity in Education. Currently studying for an Ed.D, he is focused on demonstrating how the ethos and culture of a school has the greatest impact on positive attitudes and behaviours for life.
What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Empowering, insightful, humorous (I hope).
What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
As a father of four children, I am tired of watching their potential be curbed and confined by the curriculum they are taught and the examinations they are herded through. There is more to my children – and all the children whom I teach – than that which is valued by our current education system.
What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
I hope that parents in the audience will feel empowered to ask their children’s teachers for a proper report on their learning performance, which reaches far beyond results, to attitudes, behaviours and skills for life. I want to tell children there is more to them than that which they are called upon to show in school.
Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
Trying to distil twenty years of teaching, writing and speaking into twelve minutes has been challenging but very elucidating for me.
Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
Just the one – to start a revolution in education that reclaims the value and purpose of childhood.
What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s talks on creativity and flow are inspirational. Kai-Fu Lee’s talk on artificial intelligence and what this means for humanity is worth watching too.
Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
I’ve worked in Tunbridge Wells before and I found it a vibrant and creative place, full of people who are not afraid to think big and ask questions.
What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
Do it. Public speaking is so enjoyable if you have something original to say.
Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
To widen the lens through which they view education and child development; to reclaim the importance and value of a creative childhood.