Alex Battison is Senior Deputy Head at Lord Wandsworth College. He is also Chair of Educational Futures as part of Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Programme, runs a think tank on the future of education and is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists. Alex is a Leadership Coach for the Premier League’s Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme (ECAS) where he works with top flight professional football coaches to develop their leadership in high performance environments. He has a Masters from Oxford University in Learning and Teaching and is currently towards the latter stages of his Doctorate in Leadership, Learning and Policy at Bristol.
Alex was recently interviewed for the Inspiring Schools Podcast with Simon Noakes, Founder and CEO of digital marketing company Interactive Schools. Alex talks about school futures, inspirational school leadership, anchoring on a purpose, and developing courage & perseverance in our students. Listen to the Podcast here.
Below Alex talks about his vision for the future of education:
Often described using the American military term ‘VUCA’ (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), we are all living in an immensely challenging world. Apart from a recent pandemic, common local, national and global issues include: widespread and radical social inequalities, the exponential growth in computational processing capacity (Moore’s Law); energy, mineral resource and climate change as significant issues; the continued rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning; an ageing global population; the rise of globalisation and migration; the break-up of family and social ties; multiculturalism and weakening civic engagement.
Over the course of my career to date I have spent much of my research focussed on how we can re-imagine education for the future so that our young people can thrive in meeting these challenges head on; in short, I no longer believe that our educational system is sufficient for the times in which we live.
The origins of the way schools are designed and have been sustained are well documented elsewhere and I don’t seek to repeat that here; moreover, the narrative within schools that I intend to focus on is the current status quo of preparation. Schools the world over talk of preparing young people for their futures, a future that is going to happen to them (as if they should batten down the hatches, wait for the storm to hit, and then see if they can navigate through it). Instead, I passionately believe that a revolution in schools should be driven by a mindset of creation; of enabling young people to view their futures as something that they can directly affect, create, influence, change and lead. It is our mindset that we must change first, and our education system needs that shift.
What is also critical, is that students approach their futures with hope; that they face their lives with a purpose underpinned by their ABC’s of ambition, belief and courage. Indeed, in spite of the world being VUCA (and who doesn’t like a challenge anyway!), it is also an amazing place full of opportunity, joy and vibrancy that needs inspirational young people to exert their influence on it; schools can do so much more to enable that.
Motivated by this mindset, this series of articles will be about trying to re-imagine education as a site for realising the relentless potential of our young people as active agents of change. It is about challenging the status quo, creating the spaces and structures for our young people to act with influence, to have a voice, and to meaningfully participate in schools and communities. It will address how we can better enable purposeful, passionate changemakers of the present who are empowered to create their futures.