Last weekend was a good example of how Brentwood is thinking about preparing students for the great “beyond” i.e. the world after their Brentwood experience. On Friday we convened a retreat that involved Board members, teachers, and students to discuss the future of learning at Brentwood. Through prereading articles, looking at TED talks and hearing from presenters, we acquainted ourselves with some of the main ideas about the future of education at the high school and postsecondary levels.
The importance of being ready to innovate in a fast-changing world is a message that we are hearing in various ways. As technology accelerates our ability to access knowledge, we are bound to develop a different set of priorities when it comes to learning. “How does Brentwood need to change to help our students gain the kinds of skills and attitudes that will help them become happy and fulfilled adults?” was really the question we were asking.
For a day and a half in the expanse of the old cafeteria we brainstormed in groups, shared ideas, and critiqued the status quo. This kind of process happens every two or three years and is part of the school’s commitment to reflection and continuous improvement.
On Saturday morning the school was then treated to a selection of guest speakers, alumni, parents, and local professionals, who came to share their stories and wisdom in our annual Careers Day. In keeping with the theme of encouraging students to find their passion, we had over 20 careers represented by 28 speakers, some of whom Skyped in from places such as Costa Rica, the US, and even the Grouse Mountain ski runs. Award-winning filmmaker Cal Schumiatcher gave an inspiring keynote speech on the importance of perseverance, pursuing your dreams, and how to make the most of every experience, good or bad. Students then moved into three sessions which varied from topics such as fashion and design to engineering space vehicles. Professions such as architecture, law and medicine were represented as were more niche areas such as organic food production, urban planning and hospitality management.
Being able to navigate life beyond Brentwood will involve the soft skills such as communication and collaboration. As more and more traditional careers are outsourced, either abroad or to AI, students will need to think creatively and maintain a commitment to being a life-long learner, able to adapt and grow through the challenges of economic and social change.
David McCarthy, M.A. (Cantab), Director of Learning