A new education model

EdWW believes that education in the 21st century needs to be radically different from the conservative and obsolete models of education we have become used to. In this new model, called the Global Education Model of Schooling , universal values are embedded in the framework of education itself. Becoming "good" or virtuous is given more importance than becoming "smart" or competent, though both are considered important aspects of education in the present times.

Revisiting Education in the 21st Century

Nurture's Global Education Model of Schooling

In contemporary times, the institution of education is like a barren field, rife with possibilities for anyone who wants to make a difference. If we want changes and improvement in the field of education, we need to do things differently. Let us re-imagine education at school.

Indeed, we want metamorphosis in education. From the cocoon, a butterfly must emerge!
All changes begin with a vision and thought

Imparting sound education is one of the most complex and challenging issue of modern times. It is not just a local or a national concern but a subject of great deliberation worldwide. Globalization and technology have no doubt made life much easier, however, education remains largely a grey area.

The need of the hour is not only to reduce the weight of the school bags of the children which are more like burdens for them but to also to introduce comprehensive learning with the help of technology and change the design of the curriculum so as to make it interesting and exciting for the school going children. The reforms in the system of education cannot be brought about only by introducing technology or designing curriculum.

It is certainly very important to sensitize the teachers and train them to implement methods of teaching which would accelerate learning, make learning more exciting and improve the retention capacity of the child. It is really important to nurture a child so that they bloom into responsible adults.



For these, a change in educational direction is urgently needed, not just some tinkering changes, piece-meal approaches and add-ons to an existing system that is founded upon material ethics.

Having been fortunate enough to grow up into a family of 'world class' educators, get a 'world class' education myself, having had the fortune to travel far and wide to study education in 38 countries and work on education policy at the 'best policy institution in the world', I have been forced to think hard about what is a 'good' education. I also wonder why after the so-called 'good' education, youth all over the world feel so much hopelessness and lack of direction.

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What has guided my efforts are Baha'u'llah's words: “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can alone cause it to reveal its treasures and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” This inspired me to come up with The Global Education Model of Schooling' and along with my colleague Dr Robert J Saunders, I founded the Council for Global Education in Washington, DC. First and foremost, This is a new way of thinking and conceptualising education. Indeed, every child is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.

Through education, we can unravel the gems hidden in each child and enable education to become, at the same time, an instrument of profound social transformation. TS Eliot once wrote: “It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our own time.”

Nurture's Global Education Model of Schooling

An Upside Down Model of Education

What Else Can We Do?

Unless we change direction, we are unlikely to achieve the best possible outcome from education. What we need is an Upside Down Education in which we reorganize priorities in more or less the opposite direction to what they have been in the past, for example:

  • Make preschool education the most important, not senior education as it is today.
  • Pay preschool teachers the same or more than teachers of other grades. If attitudes towards life and learning are both determined by early childhood, we need to give more importance to the education of the littlest of our lot. The job of a preschool teacher is far more complex when correctly undertaken, so we need to train them better and pay them more.
  • Make becoming 'good' more important than becoming 'smart'. Surely, the outer form of a tree is only as strong as its inner roots. The schools that focus on a higher vision often produce better academic results than those that focus primarily on academic accomplishment.
  • Instead of competition with others, make the premise of education and educational assessment competition with oneself!
  • Instead of competition with others, make the premise of education and educational assessment competition with oneself!
  • Instead of ages and one-size-fits-all dynamics, think of how to reorganise teaching so as to address the varied competencies, skills and stages of every child’s development.
  • Instead of single-aged classes, think how to get children to work in multiple ages some of the time each week, if not more.
  • Help teacher dominated classrooms convert to teacher facilitated, run in partnership with the children.
  • From fixed blueprint approaches to flexible timetables that accommodate changing needs, interests and priorities and that tap into a child's teachable moments.
  • To build a programme of both support and challenge for the individual child, create intrinsic motivation to succeed, away from external motivators that we so often use.
  • Instead of viewing schools as providers of content, to see them as providers of service.
  • Instead of teaching by rote, think of creative ways to engage all children in a process of discovery by themselves, learning by doing and through experimentation.
  • Instead of keeping parents out of the door, embrace the effective involvement of both parents and the community.
  • Instead of educating just the children, educate also the parents and society at large so that consistent messages can be given at home and at school.
  • A school must be an ideal form of society, a lighthouse, where standards are both set and met and exemplary behaviour is the norm, as schools are the mirror to the future. Let not the schools become mirrors to the present!

Making the Tunnel of Learning into

As we review education's goals in the 21st century, an important question we need to ask is: 'Can we convert the Tunnel of Learning, this present educational system, into a Process of Enlightenment?' Other important questions are: 'What are the outcomes we seek from human potential and the educational process?' 'How do we re-organise educational content, its delivery and the educational environment to help every child become both 'good' and 'smart', preserve their self-esteem, and bring out the best of gems hidden within each one? Indeed, what do we need to do differently in order to meet the aspirations and address the reality of the world's children?

Indeed, how do we re-imagine@school assessments, materials, processes, attitudes, behaviour and training of teachers? How do we orient our staff and ourselves? What syllabus and curriculum do we adopt at each stage of development, pre-primary, primary, middle and senior? What single or mixed age class settings can help our children best at any point in time? Which of the new and varied teaching methods do we adopt and when, from among so many good methods, for example, inquiry, multiple intelligences, constructivism, cooperative learning, thematic work, etc.?

It is only when we know the outcomes we want, can we refine our approach to teaching and learning and choose from existing methods and make innovations of our own that integrate research and a scientific understanding of the child.

Reconstructing Education

Together We Can!

What we desperately need is a new education based on a new set of ethics and governed by a new set of principles that are more suited to the needs of the 21 century.

In particular, we need to empower ALL our children, not just a few. With even as few as 20 children to a class (we rarely have that!), teachers are often hard pressed to personalize learning for the individual child. Differentiated teaching is hard to manage in the west, even with extra helper teachers in a class.

Can a teacher with 20 or more children in a class personalize learning so that every child excels or is this expectation an oxymoron? The experimental underpinnings of a personalised learning programme began in Aslandsskoli, Hafnarfjordur, in Iceland, in 2000. It was the beginning of an experiment with the help of some amazing individuals: Bodvar Jonsson and Steinunn Gudnadottir, Gudrun Petursdottir, Jonina Bjartmas, Hanna Ragnarsdottir and others with whom we started Iceland's first two charter schools.

We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences to help create a new education more suited to the needs and aspirations of children living in the 21st century.