Read the full transcript of Episode 24 of the NAIS New View EDU podcast, which features Maddy Hewitt, executive director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA), and Kelly Borg, associate chief executive for teaching and learning at the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales in Australia. They join host Tim Fish to discuss how world events such as the pandemic, global political instability, climate change, and a youth mental health crisis have fundamentally impacted education in different parts of the world—as well as what school leaders can do, and are doing right now, to create strong futures for their students and communities.
Tim Fish: On this episode of New View EDU, we're gonna take a wider look. We're gonna ask the questions that we've been asking since Episode 1, around what's the purpose of school? How do we think about great learning? What does it look like to create the schools that our students need for their futures? And instead of thinking only about that from a US perspective, today we're gonna open up our aperture. We're gonna think much more broadly around the idea of what is going on in the world. How can we think about teaching and learning from an international perspective?
So joining us for this conversation, we have two fantastic educators. Kelly Borg is with us. She's the associate chief executive for teaching and learning at the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales in Australia. She has a range of teaching experience in independent schools, and most recently in Sydney, Australia, and has been proud to call AIS home for almost the last decade.
Also, we have with us Maddy Hewitt, who is the executive director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools, otherwise known as NESA. NESA is a nonprofit association of 75 private, independent American and international schools, serving students and their families in a culturally diverse region that stretches from Cairo in the west, all the way to Katmandu in the east. Prior to joining NESA, Maddy served in a variety of senior leadership roles in five international schools, in Taipei, in Cairo, in Johannesburg, and even in Saudi Arabia.
Maddy and Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today. This is gonna be a fun conversation as we think about the world.
Kelly Borg: Thanks so much, Tim. I've been looking forward to this all week.
Maddy Hewitt: Likewise. I'm so pleased to be here, engaged in this conversation.
Tim Fish: So before we begin, I've just gotta give a call out to the internet. You know, one of the things we're dealing with in this season is thinking about how the internet has really caused a lot of trouble. And, you know, there's a lot of things to not like about the internet, but I will tell you right now, the internet is amazing. It is connecting us in a real time conversation from all over the world to really think about education.
You know, I've been, in my mind, I've been calling it the “other I,” which is this idea that, you know, in, for, with us, we're the National Association of Independent Schools. And I love the independence of our schools, you know, and that they can each, they're little experiments that can think about different ways of doing education aligned with their mission.
And yet over the last few years in particular, I have seen the emergence of an inspirational interdependence, that they're independent and connected to each other. And that it's been through those networks that I've seen our schools have been there to support and help and really share great ideas and best practice.
I'm curious, I, in some ways, I kind of go back and forth, because I think we should be independent and I think we should acknowledge and embrace our interdependence. What do you think of that concept of the “other I,” if you will?
Kelly Borg: Yeah, Tim, we are seeing that here as well. And perhaps during the pandemic it almost became the case that some of our schools moved a little bit away from the independence that they have always fought so fiercely to maintain.
So we've historically had schools who, rightly so, kind of say, don't tell us what to do, we're independent schools. We will do as is the right choice for the students in this particular context. And then during the pandemic, when there was so much going on in terms of community settings, international settings, students coming and going, students learning from home.
Suddenly we had this situation where they were saying, tell us what to do. Tell us what to do. Let's hear from each other, what each other is doing. And so that interdependence that you're talking about, or that connectiveness, the connectivity between schools and to our association, happened maybe through the force of the interruption and the desire to just be doing the right thing for the community. But it has spawned some really positive outcomes where perhaps now people are connected in ways that they weren't before the interruption of the pandemic and the whole remote learning scenario.
Tim Fish: Yeah, right on. Maddy, you have thoughts on that?
Maddy Hewitt: I do. I think we have, as I said, long had that independence, but we've also, some of our schools have been isolated over the years. And so at NESA we always wanted to connect everyone so that they could be stronger through relationships and connection. And that again, proved to be this sort of secret sauce that developed over time of just how important it is to have a crew and to be vulnerable together, and to reach out if you had something that didn't go well or something that failed.
And I think that interconnectivity piece was very much part of our experience in the past and, as it developed, our actual ethos and our identity as a learning organization. And I think in these times of great trial, nothing is more helpful than relationship. It just really is. We know it is connected to our wellbeing.
And so being able to be in a high trust relationship and say, this was hard and I tried this and it didn't work, or I tried this and it was a grand success and I couldn't believe it, you know, we have that going on and that is so tremendously valuable. We just actually had our first face-to-face event in April of this year, after two years of not seeing one another across the schools.
And we had our heads attend a summit on the island of Idra in Greece, and we had 45 people come and we had a program that really was focused on, again, reflecting on what we had all been through and deciding what leadership lessons had emerged from what we had all been through, and then sharing deeply about things that had worked and maybe things that had not worked.
And we gave some new exercises or protocols, frameworks. We used one, Tim, that's been used quite a bit at NAIS, the polarity management framework. And we had the heads look at problems through the lens of not a problem to be fixed, but a dilemma to be managed, that there are different poles on any issue that these heads were facing.
And so they were often dealing with a complex issue that had something to manage, maybe not something that could be fixed forever. And so they brought examples of the polarities that they were managing and they shared in small group and used the framework to reflect on what it is they learned.
And also they were using that framework very effectively as a leadership practice and developing their own skill sets together. And that was just a wonderful time tokind of take stock of everything that had happened, but also to point to the future, oh, how might we also next year continue to use this framework and also stay connected with one another, that we know we can do an outreach call if we find we're in the middle of a dilemma that's quite challenging.
Tim Fish: Yeah. You know, it makes me think about this notion that we are all facing some real challenges right now. I've been inspired by seeing the work that our schools are doing together. And I've felt the exhaustion, Kelly, that you talked about in the beginning, this idea like it is, I don't, I can't think of another time in my 30 plus years as an educator that our communities have been more exhausted. And I'm curious, what, like, what else are you feeling? What are you feeling about, with students? You know, I was talking with a head of school the other day, who said they're seeing kind of behaviors in kids they've just never seen before, at all kinds of ages. That the sort of lingering effects of what we've all been through over the last few years are really playing out.
Kelly Borg: Yeah, I, I think there is kind of no doubt in any school, probably around the world, that there's been a tremendous impact on young people, on their wellbeing, their mental health, their behaviors, their understanding of what society actually is and how it works. You, I don't know how much you know about the lockdowns that we experienced in Australia, but we had, our government tells us, some of the harshest conditions in the world when it came to being locked down and we have for the most part, a really compliant society, you know.
Tim Fish: What was it like? What would you, when you talk about the lockdowns, what do you mean?
Kelly Borg: So in New South Wales last year, we had four months of lockdown conditions where we had remote learning happening for most of that. We were not permitted to go more than five kilometers from our own home. And so it meant that lots—
Tim Fish:—At all? Like you, couldn't just, you couldn't drive more than five kilometers. You couldn't go anywhere more than five kilometers from your own home?
Kelly Borg: No, not unless you were in a particular line of work. So for essential workers, for our healthcare workers, for services that were deemed essential, you were permitted to kind of cross those boundaries, but if you were in most occupations, most kind of roles, you were locked into the five kilometers that surrounded your house or your local government area.
So for some of us, we were really lucky. I live in a local government area that's around 250 kilometers square. For some of my friends, they live in a local government area that's around 11 kilometers squared. So in many ways, Tim, we were very, very grateful for the internet at this point in our, in our lives because it—
Tim Fish: Go internet!
Kelly Borg: Go internet. We loved it. Not only did it keep us socially connected, it provided us with strange things. Like how far is five kilometers from my house and—
Tim Fish: That's a great lesson, right?
Kelly Borg:—where does my five kilometer overlap with someone else's five kilometers? That became the biggest question for Sydney-side is where, where do I overlap with my friends?
Where does my five kilometers intersect with someone else's so that I can see people that I love? So that I can see people that sustain me? I can exercise? In New South Wales, we were allowed out for certain reasons, one of them included physical activity. So you were allowed to go to the park and, and exercise, but in Victoria, they had restrictions around that, that included you were allowed out for exercise, but only for one hour a day.
So when we know what a protective factor physical activity has on the mental health and well-being of young people, I think, oh, of human beings, I think we had a significantly different experience. So this year as we returned to kind of full time in school, come, come to school every day, we've seen a huge uptake in students and parents who are choosing home learning as a mode.
So we've seen around 7,000 students continue to learn from home this year, where typically that figure is around a thousand students. So there were students who have experienced a, a reluctance to return to a, a social environment. Perhaps for some students learning from home was a really positive thing because suddenly there was no bullying in the playground for them. Suddenly there was no running into that person that they don't want to see every day. So they were able to kind of embrace that experience where learning at home meant that they were actually learning. And for others of course, it was an extremely difficult experience to be separated from their friends for so long. We look back now, Tim, and, and Maddy, and think, oh gosh, what a, what a bizarre experience.
My friends and I were stopped by the police in a park one day, because you were allowed to exercise with four other people and we had five other people. And so the police said to us, you know, we've had a complaint, what are you doing here? And we look back on that and think, we will just reflect and go, "Remember that time in history where the police could ask you about your exercise?" That is just bizarre.
Maddy Hewitt: Just, you know, how strange a time it was and what we all the, all the compliance and the, all of the unknowns that we were coping with in schools. And I think our—for our community, too, Kelly, very similar. There were lockdowns in every country, the lockdowns were a little bit different. So people were dealing with different ministry regulations. And then our overseas people were, again, it was very difficult, cuz many of them did not get home to see their families for the entire time. It might have been up to two years and they hadn't seen their families. So that was very, very difficult with the different lockdowns and then the different iterations of the variants coming along and thinking everybody was so looking forward, they were back to school, they were in, just getting ready for again, getting face-to-face again and having parents back on campus. Smacked down, Omicron came in January. And it was just so difficult on the schools and managing. And the other thing that was similar that you shared is that sort of for students, it was tremendous loss. Loss of being with friends, loss of exercise, loss of the things that were typical rituals and traditions, as well as all of the socialization.
And even though, and we found through research that in our schools too, about a third of the kids loved the home learning opportunities and felt they were learning better with some of the new responsive and necessary models, you know, that we were, that we were implementing. There were still many students that did not thrive under those conditions and there was so much loss. And then for teachers, there was so much added work in delivering hybrid, sometimes, you know, they had to, and, and to—figuring out all the new plays, you know, developing their playbook for their community and how that was gonna look and how things were going to be delivered. So for teachers, it was tremendously stressful.
And also leaders at our schools, in making the decisions and being responsive and having the continued disruption and changing conditions throughout two years, not just one year. So that has been very, very, very similar to you. Very, very difficult.
Kelly Borg: Yeah, I think you've both spoken or you both mentioned this idea of polarity management and I think it probably, in all parts of the world, the distance between people's experience has been really highlighted. So, you know, we kind of sit here talking about the internet and how fortunate we are that we're able to use it. But the reality is that in, in many parts of New South Wales, connection to the internet is fraught with difficulty. In many economic situations, we had students who didn't have equitable access to the internet. So in situations where there's economic prosperity and the school was able to provide a lot through digital resourcing and support, there was as many schools where that access through or to those kind of support systems was not the same. And so that kind of polarizing experience where some students were logging on every morning and being able to connect with their classmates, their peers, their teachers, and be provided support, there were others who were in really difficult home situations and, and not able to do those things. So we're the, what we're hearing from schools is that that's playing out most significantly in the final years of school. So for our students who have come back into a face to face environment and are experiencing their final years of schooling, some reports suggest that re-engagement with the importance of those final years has been difficult for some and, and getting those year, we call it year, year 12 here, getting those year 12 students to re-engage with this kind of final important year has been difficult.
Maddy Hewitt: What have been the—I'm curious, Kelly, what have been the silver linings? Like when we talk about the, you know, some of the challenges and the disruptions and the downsides and the loss. What did you find in your organization were the silver linings or the innovations or the things that happened, you know, invention out of necessity, that really were positive?
Kelly Borg: Yeah, I, I think there's been so many silver linings in this experience and perhaps we have a tendency to focus on those things that were bizarre or, or that caused us a bit of trauma. But I think the... we've learned that we can work at pace, and that perfect is the enemy of good. Is that the saying? You know, where, where we go okay, well, it's not quite right, but we've gotta do it by tomorrow. So we're gonna do it like this. And so having the confidence to say, you know what, it's not laminated, it's not framed with a purple border. It's not, it's not beautiful. In fact, it's not even close to pretty, but we are gonna do it. And it will work.
That has been a, a kind of really positive shift. Also thinking about what we've learned about flexibility. And so the way that we consider the workforce in terms of flexibility has been a silver lining for our organization. We learned so much about the ways that we can connect with each other that don't involve being face to face. And perhaps we underestimated the potential for the way that we use Microsoft Teams, or the way that we use our digital forms of communication, and still maintain our relationships really well. Similarly, we have a real appreciation for those face-to-face moments and what it means to be able to sit with each other and have a cup of coffee, or go for a walk around the block.
You know, those, those appreciation—the appreciation for what we achieve in the white space moments. So, you know, we didn't get together and have a meeting where we determined the agenda and the outcome and et cetera, et cetera. But actually we walked past each other in the corridor and we said, "Hey, how about that really interesting thing that we saw on, on LinkedIn last night?" And, and those moments of mentoring and companionship and stewardship of the work that we do that gets achieved in those little spaces between.
Maddy Hewitt: That's wonderful.
Tim Fish: Yeah. You know, it's, as we think about that notion of how we get at some of those ideas, Maddy, you have always been someone in my life who turns me on to new ideas. You have just always been connecting with what I should be reading or thinking about.
I'm curious, like what's, what's on your pile right now? What are you thinking about? And what – what's hot among your schools, as they're thinking about learning design and innovation as they're going forward?
Maddy Hewitt: Yeah, great question. I think we were really influenced by this time of disruption where things got accelerated and suddenly we had to think about how are we going to, you know, deal with the learning loss if kids aren't there, how are we gonna deal with, you know, convening online and making that meaningful and purposeful? And so we did accelerate things that were already in motion that we were already trying to do, like really focus on learning progressions for kids. And what does, you know, powerful learning look like, and competency based learning look like, and what does, how do we make sure that kids have high agency with it and are doing project based learning, and using inquiry as a, you know, as a powerful tool for driving you know, curiosity within a, within a project or within a subject area?
So these were things that we were already, you know, sort of on fire with as an organization, but boy did we accelerate in those areas. And I know Kelly was sharing, they're engaged in a big curriculum overhaul. And I think right now, one of the most exciting things is that this, this disruption has also caused everyone to take that strategic moment and say, what are we bringing through the portal?
You know, what is on the other side? What are we leaving behind that did not serve us and that we knew wasn't good, but that somehow this disruptive time allows us to shed, because we have more ability to be adaptive. We've learned to be more adaptive. So our schools are really looking at curriculum, that the fact that there's too much of it, and that we can let go of it and that we can let go of it—we call it doing the Marie Kondo—that we can—
Tim Fish:—Yes. Yes. I just did that in my closet. There wasn't much left. I'll tell you, there wasn't much left when you decide if you love something or not.
Maddy Hewitt: Totally. Marie Kondo the curriculum, and choose what is gonna be of service to the students in this new, with its, with many, and I think this is back to repurposing. You know, repurposing education at this time, ensuring the education is fit for purpose, which is always to ensure human flourishing and human development. It's, it that's, that's been forever, but we're no longer living in the industrial age. We're living in the post industrial age where we're no longer building a society for consuming things. We're building a society for preserving and, and sustaining and regenerating things. And so there are some new purposes, and I love to answer your question, who, who's, what's on my shelf or who do I read?
I read the systems thinkers. And Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge of MIT, both senior lecturers, their work has had a very big influence on me personally and on our whole organization. We do use the U theory, which is an approach, a systems approach that Otto Scharmer developed that is almost a phenomenon.
There are many tools and practices within it, but it is allowing the future to inform practice not just the past. And it is allowing, is orienting toward the future through a framework and a series of practices that allows us, us to become aware and alert to what wants to happen with the future driving our potential. And so we use that framework as a way of operating within the NESA organization.
There are other influencers. We have been really working with coaches, expert coaches to come to NESA and help us develop, deeply develop, a coaching culture. So we work with Steve Barkley, he's from field three company, and we work with Joellen Killion, who's done a lot of deep work and learning forward and is, is an author on coaching. And we work to make sure that our schools are benefiting from developing their ability to reciprocally coach, find a coach, self coach, but to always work on continuous improvement.
And that has had a huge influence on our culture and been very successful over time, working on coaching culture. So those are two, two areas that we've been reading a lot about and continue to learn in, systems thinking, coaching culture, adaptive change, and change management. Those are the areas that I think right at this time, when we are thinking about how to deal with all the complexities of the day, those are bodies of work that are very influential in our systems.
Kelly Borg: Do you know, it's so affirming to hear that there are lots of similarities between what's happening in your part of the world and what's happening in ours, Maddy. And particularly when you spoke about this idea of competencies coming to the fore, you know, it's really reassuring to hear that there are so many voices singing from the same song sheet around that now, because it, it feels like there's a growing nation—there's definitely a growing national conversation here. But to hear that that conversation is happening in all different parts of the world is fantastic.
Tim, your question was around like this point in time, you know, like what it is about this point in time. And you know, we've had such massive interruption to our ways of life and the opportunity to reflect on that move from education as serving a really pragmatic, even economic purpose, to being fundamentally intrinsic, you know, being about human fulfillment. We've only gotta look around the world to see that so many of the issues we're facing right now in this moment, they require international cooperation.
So we're looking at trade disruption and kind of global shipping issues that are affecting every country on earth. The environment, climate change, those things don't happen with each country kind of solving their own problems. Conflict, there's conflict in Europe that's affecting every country on earth. So we're in a time, I think, where if we're able to maintain this pace and this enthusiasm that we've been working, that's been necessitated by the massive interruption. Then my goodness, what could we achieve when we're kind of thinking bigger picture and with, with optimism about the way that we do that?
That development of competencies, capabilities, and dispositions, and recognizing them in ways that we perhaps haven't recognized them before is a really, it's a really growing conversation here. So we are looking at really assisting students to understand their role as intelligent, ethical citizens, not only of their little part of the world, not just their five kilometers, but of their city and of their town and of their country, and of the world. And you know, it's a little bit different at the moment in Australia, the conversation has been around, well, how can we kind of shift the disproportionate emphasis that has been on the score that you get at the end of your schooling experience to recording and recognizing, and heralding and valuing and framing what success for all looks like, and acknowledging with equal reverence that score that you get for your academic knowledge and understanding, with the empathy that you have as a human being or the creativity that you have, or the resilience that you demonstrate, or the way that you emotionally regulate.
So how do we hold those things in the same esteem and not judge a young person simply by a number that we attribute to them based on how well they did in a standardized assessment? So that's a really big conversation here right now, influenced by people like Bill Lucas and Michael Fullan and Guy Claxton, where, you know, they, I think they must be finally kind of rejoicing that the world is listening in a way that perhaps 10 years ago it wasn't ready to.
Tim Fish: What's so interesting to me is that we haven't sort of completely figured it out anywhere, right? Like we're all in the work.
Kelly Borg: Yeah.
Tim Fish: We're in the work of designing for the education that our young people need. And the other part that blows me away is like, there's a lot of similarity. We're saying a lot of the same names. We're reading a lot of the same books.
Maddy Hewitt: We are.
Tim Fish: You know, there's more that connects us than divides us.
Maddy Hewitt: For sure. We're in, we're so interconnected.
Tim Fish: You know, and, and to your great point, Kelly, this world is so interconnected. And it's only going to get to be more interconnected as things like telecommunications and Zoom increase sort of how we connect and when we can connect. Maddy, you were talking before we jumped online about one of your biggest challenges is managing all the time zones. Right? We haven't yet figured out how to sort of break down, you know, the different time around the world, but it feels like it's just getting, there's more and more conversations, I know that I'm in, where I'm all over the place, you know, jumping from one part of the world to another. What I'm curious about here is as we think about things like the world economic forums, thinking around the fourth industrial revolution and the amount of this, I think the world is gonna get smaller.
And yet politically, it's getting more spread apart. Global conflict. Polarization, politically, you know, is, is something that really is challenging in the United States, for sure. And it's something that our school heads are saying all the time, is something that's harder to manage than the pandemic in many ways in their communities.
I'm curious what you are seeing and, around that, because it feels to me and, and around, I loved your point Maddy, around bright spots on that. Where are the places we're seeing that people are doing great work to bring others together, to build some of those larger habits beyond, Kelly, just the score, as you were mentioning?
Maddy Hewitt: And I love both of your connections to this paradox. You know, that on the one hand we are more interconnected than ever. And on the other hand, we are more polarized than ever. So these things that are shaping our current time, our moment in time and space, they were predicted. I think if you look at the systems thinkers work, you know, Peter Senge wrote a book called The Necessary Revolution. It predicted a lot of this polarization because of the massive shifts going on at this stage of humans on the planet. I mean, the, you know, when you think about, from the, you know, agricultural revolution on the population growth, you know, we weren't, we, we haven't been prepared for the population growth, for the impact on the planet, for the migration that would ensue.
And it's all there as the scientists, you know, were looking to see what would be the future trending. So what's been happening with access to water and on sustainability. And so these huge, you know, things that are impacting the realities for humans, you know, are going on right now and do need to be built in, as Kelly said, to our schools. How do we develop students that are more civic oriented, that are more becoming part of the solution, that are co-creating solutions with innovation? And Tim, your question about what are some of the positive things? And you mentioned you know, the, the, well, there are the UN development goals.
There's the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that rolled out its educational framework for 2030 called the Compass Framework. They rolled it out at Davos in 2018. And that framework, that compass framework includes on it knowledge, skills, attitudes, and dispositions. Competencies, basically, that are woven.
As Kelly was saying, you don't wanna keep those things apart. You don't wanna be just, okay, we're compliant. We're doing our standards. They're academic, they're in the academic disciplines.There's academic literacy. We know, yes there is. And it's so important. But we also know we need to weave into a modern learning design, to modern curriculums, we need to weave in those other pieces that are going to allow students to flourish. And that includes social emotional awareness. And that includes inclusion and understanding intercultural realities and working for a culture where there is belonging for all on the planet, because we are interconnected and we all need to flourish in order for the planet to flourish and for, you know, humans to develop well and also to have economies that flourish, and there need to be new regenerative economies.
So the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, they have actually put within their framework a very broad definition of the purpose of school. And it is well-being, but it's well-being across all those different components. Well-being in the sense that, of subjective well-being for self, but well-being so that you have curiosity in school and you have agency and you yourself are part of creating the solution because your schooling is relevant.
So it's a wonderful framework for 2030, and it really does engage and excite us. And at NESA, we're using the framework as the basis for all of our programming as we move forward. And I'll just mention one more word about the Compass Framework. It is not a curriculum. What the Compass Framework is, it's a way to structure your thoughts. And who is the Compass Framework for? Everyone. Individuals, nation states, school systems. It is for everyone, because it points its compass true north toward well-being. And that includes how we live on the planet. So all of these things that we want for, again, and it's that cooperation and development that people have come together to be able to say, what educationally from start to finish, and I mean lifelong education, what do we want to be aiming toward and how do we get there? Knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, all woven into learning design. And I, that really excites me. I, I think you can tell.
Kelly Borg: You know, one of the most exciting things about it, Maddy, is I think that students have a language for this, that perhaps some of their teachers even do not. Because in that OECD set of resources around the compass, there's a series of videos called The Future We Want. The voice of young people is being heard right now in a way that it has never been heard, I think, throughout history in education. So we've got this kind of generation of consumers. They know what's happening in the Ukraine. Kids in Australia know what's happening in the US presidential elections. They tell us all about it. They know what's happening in the, the, the great ocean garbage patch in the Pacific because they've seen it on TikTok, so they've got this massive capacity for consuming what's happening around the world and having an understanding of it.
And also having that kind of disposition of asking, well, what can we do? Like, what's our role in this? They seem to have a disposition for that, that perhaps their counterparts, 20 years older or 30 years older, don't have, because they're not consuming at such a rate.
You were talking about connectedness. And I think we're seeing that at the moment, where kids are connecting with each other online in a way that enables that kind of global conversation to happen. You know, when, when I think about things that are happening here, so for example, the curriculum reform that I spoke about. We've got syllabus documents that are 20 years old. And so that's not every document, but there's some, some are 20 years old. And so can you imagine their irrelevance to a student in 2022? But for the first time there's a real focus on student agency in the curriculum development. So instead of only asking teachers what it is that we should include, and instead of only being driven by the, the government's agenda, the political agenda about what we should include, students are being asked.
What should we include? What's important? What are you curious about? And it's really interesting to hear the student responses to that. They start with phrases like "I'm really curious about," "I'm really interested in," "I really wanna know about." So, so they're coming to us with that real disposition for curiosity, and that hunger for not solving problems but knowing as much as they can about them, perhaps that they have a chance to be involved in some way. And that, I think, is a really, really positive thing.
I also think there's some kind of big picture issues that, you know, we spoke before about mental health and wellbeing. And that OECD purpose of schooling being about well-being. I, I don't know what it's like for you, but I'm watching young people here have a language for talking about their own mental health and well-being in a way that their parents definitely did not.
They're able to recognize when their mental health isn't as it should be. And the protective factors that they can engage with, like what they should be doing. They know that physical activity, nutrition are massively impactful. They know that spending too much time online is negatively impactful. But they have a, they have a meta language around mental health and wellbeing. I mean, when I was 10, I wasn't talking about social anxiety. You know, but these kids do. These kids do they, they, they know what they're seeing and they are learning about ways to manage it.
Maddy Hewitt: I think it's so interesting that we have both what you just said, and I absolutely resonate with it, that there is this metacognition that kids have now and you feel it, you almost feel it with what they ignore and what they engage with in schools. And they are at a stage where they can say, quickly, they can synthesize whether the learning is fit for purpose. You know, they can quickly figure out whether the learning design is serving them or not. And they have their own language and their own ability to navigate. They are adaptive, they've grown up. And some of the systems that we give them are that old system that is, that is bureaucratic, that is compliance oriented, that is industrial age. And they can know that that's not going to serve them. And so they are navigating that and there's something very powerful in it, including what you were saying about well-being. And their, you know, increased social emotional literacy.
At the same time, we have a well-being crisis with youth. And it's significant, and it correlates with the rise of digital device. And so we need to look very carefully and watch that very carefully and say, yes, what is coming through? Just like the third of the kids that prefer to learn online and two thirds that aren't doing well, you know, learning online or, and I'm just, you know, broad brushing now, but I, but we do have to watch carefully. And I think we have to research ourselves as we go.
And Tim, this is something I'm so grateful for. NAIS is a fantastic research organization, and it's an organization that stays abreast by conducting research and sharing it out with all member schools. And it is powerful because we are at a time where, you know, it's new and we don't know, and we may know, or we may think some things, but we're trialing. And I think in terms of well-being and digital age realities, and machine age issues as they, as we interact with them, it's, it's very important to be researching ourselves and seeing what's working, what's not, what's healthy, what's not. And also stay attuned to those things that are tremendously, you know, valuable, as you said.
Tim Fish: Yeah. You know, for me, it, it you're spot on and it I'm trying to, like, in my head, I'm thinking, okay, what is it that we're, we really want to be thinking about? Right. And a couple ideas have come to mind from the amazing comments that you both have shared. One is that it's about taking a systems approach to thinking about school.
It's about saying, Maddy, to your great point from the OECD work. Put well-being in the center. You know, Donna Orem's been talking about that for a few years as well. This idea that well-being is the center of what we do. That's at the heart of it. Without it, you can make no progress. It is a thing that will be with you forever. But it hadn't historically been in the center of what school is about. And so we have to take a full systems approach of thinking about education broadly, and we have to take a designer's approach to that. It's not about tweak one thing or tweak something else over here or change one little curriculum area. It's not about thinking about school in disciplinary or departmental silos, but it's about taking a full systems approach to really think about wellbeing in that development. And then you say, okay, What is it gonna be at the other end, what's gonna come out of this function if you will, that we sort of design?
And my sense is that if you look at what school has been in the past, it will actually be less stuff. It will be the Kondo closet. It will be less things. And the things that are there are the things we love. And the things that are there are the things that help us all to really develop that.
Right? And, and the role of educators are gonna be to help young people navigate this new designed environment. There's a couple things. One is, it's significant, and it's so inspirational to think about what school could be. And the last thing I'll say is, I believe that this is what our educators have been asking for. The system has put so much machinery in and they're just saying, let me just be with these young people and help them move forward. That's why I got in this work in the beginning. And so I feel like I don't know the full answer, but those are some of the, those are some of the things I was jotting down while the two of you were sharing your thoughts.
Maddy Hewitt: And the collective wisdom, as you say, it comes from, you know, teachers that want the change, that feel it, that feel the future, it's from students that feel the future, students, as Kelly was saying, they can be our greatest allies. I had an adult mentor who told me, get a mentor under 40. In fact, get a mentor under, you know, 35. Yeah. And—
Tim Fish: I love that. I, I need to do that. Get a mentor who’s under 35.
Maddy Hewitt: Yeah. And I have, and I have, and I think, you know, we're very excited to, to your point, Tim, about the future of education, we have our kickoff keynote for the fall is a, is a student. And so we have a, a young man who's graduating from the international school in Beirut. And let me tell you, of all schools that were challenged last year, I think Beirut and Sri Lanka in our region were the greatest challenged schools. And, you know, they had devaluation of currency. They had, you know, governmental collapse, they had, every manner of social fabric that could be torn asunder, was torn asunder there.
And here's a student who's staying extremely positive and optimistic about his own education and also inspiring us as colleagues across the region. And what he's planning to do is to be asking the very question that you launched this podcast with, which is the purpose. What is the purpose of education? He's gonna ask all the educators in the room to consider some value propositions and to lean in and determine which ones they think are extremely important. He's gonna pass the mic to the other presenters. One, one presenter will be talking about climate and how we need to build in climate education into schooling and get, and can dos with students who can play a part and make a difference in something that's extremely relevant to their time and in relation to climate.
And there'll be another one on the cultures of dignity. And how we create cultures of belonging for everyone in our schools and create inclusive environments. So we're gonna pass the mic and then talk about these value propositions. So apropos of what Kelly was saying, is what are these things that are most important in terms of wellbeing? You know, and how do we get at it through maybe youth voice and asking them, what do they see? And he's actually facilitating the, the adult educators in this conversation.
Tim Fish: That's outstanding.
Maddy Hewitt: Looking, very looking forward to that.
Tim Fish: Great way to do a keynote.
Well, I'll tell you, this has been an incredible conversation, and I'm gonna just ask each of you to weigh in on one final question before we break apart. And that is: What are your hopes for the future of education? We get back together during season 20, in 10 years of New View EDU, and we do this again. What do you hope maybe will have transpired in those 10 years?
Kelly Borg: Oh, in 10 years, Tim. Gosh, I, I think we've only gotta look at the last few years to think, well, what, what could be possible? In the next 10 years, I, I, I really hope that education continues to traverse down this path of getting back to its intrinsic purpose around human fulfillment, around well-being, and that we continue to move away from this focus on how good is this student, to how is this student good? You know, like getting those broad measures of success, rather than those more narrow measures of success.
I really liked your point about design and being intentional about the design. So I hope in 10 years that we've had a situation where there's been more people confident enough to say, how would we design if we were designing it now? If this is the outcome that we want, and we know what the outcome is that we want, then how would we design if we were designing it now? Let's not take what we did last year and change the timetable a little bit. Let's not take, you know, our curriculum that we've had for the last 20 years and, and just Marie Kondo it a little bit, but how would we design if we were designing now, if that's the outcome that we want?
I'm kind of curious about the next 10 to 15 years in terms of the impact of the digital space on education, and whether education as a sector has something to learn from the corporate world. So I'm watching virtual reality become a more affordable technology that they're using in spaces like defense. So I wonder how it could look for education if we see more schools using VR, or if we see, if we see education as a sector using VR. Some of my colleagues and I were talking the other day about this teacher shortage, and this kind of difficulty with attracting and retaining high quality teachers and teachers moving away from the profession. And we were kind of wondering about what would it be like if there could be virtual training grounds for teachers? You know, if, if teachers could experience what it's like to be in a classroom without being in a classroom.
So how could VR and AI enable that kind of experience? I will be curious in the next 10 years, if, if we've moved towards kind of virtual training grounds where teachers have an opportunity to experiment without doing any harm to the young people that they're experimenting on. That could be quite curious, I think and quite, quite interesting.
Tim Fish: That's powerful, the classroom simulator kind of like as, as you think about how, how pilots learn to fly. Yeah. I love it.
Kelly Borg: Yeah, the army does it, the army does it, right? Like why not teachers? Why not teachers? Why can't we step into a virtual environment and, and say, how, how do we deal with this child who's experiencing X, Y, and Z? And, and let's connect with all the other people that are in that virtual environment to talk about how we do it. Wouldn't that be a, a different kind of teacher training experience to the one that they have currently, where they go and spend, you know, three weeks in someone's classroom and, and come back out and say, oh, I'm a, I'm gonna be a teacher now.
Tim Fish: Love it.
Maddy Hewitt: I was talking to Mark Milliron about that, of CIVITAS. And they have some of it going on, Kelly, and I haven't seen it, but we were sharing with him that we're really interested in it because he said they do simulation now for teacher training. And it sounded fascinating to me and I thought, I need to be a learner and get in there and see what's, you know, what, what the experience would be like. I felt it was difficult to even, for me to imagine it. And so I really want to actually do it.
And, and yeah, and I think I love that, that open-mindedness, you know, because again, that's allowing the new technologies. Thinking about ways we can leverage them to the good, think about ways they could solve problems with shortages or, you know, just be, again, help us recapture time, because it's an effective approach.
And I think those are things that we should continue to think about and learn about. But again, as the touchstone held up, that well-being and flourishing, because we can get into new technologies that do not help us flourish. And so we have to be very aware of sort of what these techniques and, and tools do to us, whether they're working in our favor or not.
But I love that. I love, it's a very exciting time in education because we sit between these two worlds. We do have our own revolution or evolution to experience, bringing in tools and tactics for a new age and for a, you know, designed for purpose. As you would say, Tim, we have the ability to design and be architects of powerful learning.
And interestingly, at the same time that all these disruptions happen. So did the science of learning and development happen. I mean, the science has really engaged us all. And Kelly mentioned a few of the key researchers that are informing learning design, and we know so much more than we did even a decade ago, from the research. And I think this allows us to look at effect sizes and know, yep, it's working or Nope, we're not gonna do that. It doesn't work. From longitudinal studies, we know that does not work. So we're not gonna engage in those practices that were built in, baked in to our past system. We are actually gonna shed them, let them go and move on to practices that do work.
And when I hear from people like Kelly who are engaged in full on curricular review and reform, it's so exciting because you can use the research to drive your changes with confidence and, and then you can learn more. I answer the question in a similar way to Kelly. What, you know, what do we, what is our hope for the future of education, and that is human flourishing.
I hope children are engaged with that sense of wonder, with the curiosity that is innate for all of us. It's a human endowment that, that they will be able to apply their imagination, their creativity, their intellectual powers and their yes, their knowledge, meaning, you know, within the disciplines. We have this wonderful legacy of the disciplines that are academic. And they're not to be juxtaposed or given away. They're meant to enhance along with those other qualities.
I think back to the Greek adage of always including ethos, pathos, and logos, we're full human beings and we need ethics, and we need logic, and we need feeling in order to live a true and full life. And that is my best hope for every child we serve. And actually every adult we serve as well, that we're all on that, on that journey for full wholehearted living.
Tim Fish: Perfect, coming from Athens, Maddy, to return to the Greeks, to return, to, to ethos, pathos, and logos. Thank you so much for that. Thank you so much, Kelly, for your incredible thoughts and wisdom. This has been an awesome conversation. I've truly enjoyed spending some time with you and connecting to where are we worldwide as we think about education?
And in fact, as we've discovered, we're a lot closer than other, than people might think we are. And there's a lot of lessons to be learned from that. So just thank you to the two of you, and just what a, what a treat this was.
Kelly Borg: Thanks so much, Tim, it's been such a, such a privilege to talk with both of you this morning. I wish I did this every Thursday morning, frankly. That's been fantastic.
Maddy Hewitt: Thank you both. It's been a pleasure and it's really one of the things, again, back to how much we, we benefit from learning together in collaboration. And I, I'm gonna think about the comments of today, both you, Tim and Kelly, and, and be hoping that it will influence also our, our work forward, all of our work forward with building the new system.
Tim Fish: Thank you both so much.