A strong foundation of literacy for creativity, artistry and humanity

‘For humans to thrive in the age of smart machines, it is essential that they do not compete with machines. Instead, they need to be more human. Being unique and equipped with social-emotional intelligence are distinct human qualities that machines do not have (yet). In an AI world, individual creativity, artistry and humanity will be important commodities that distinguish us from each other.’

– Zhao 2021[1]

Preparing our students for a rapidly changing world is the biggest challenge facing educators. Experts predict that the future will be very different with developments of artificial intelligence and automation. This is a challenging thought raising many questions. AI is already part of our lives. Increasingly we see robots assisting in the professions of finance, medical science, agriculture and retail.

To help students thrive in the age of smart machines and a globalised world, they need to be creative, entrepreneurial and globally competent. Literacy and numeracy will continue to be the building blocks on which all other learning rests; however, this will not be enough. We know that learning goes far beyond the classroom. Consider the critical thinking and teamwork involved in the debating team, the discipline and collaboration built into a sporting team, the empathy built into raising funds for a service project in a developing country or volunteering at an aged-care facility or a homeless shelter. We value being part of a school play or a band, choir or orchestra or going on a school camp – these experiences are immeasurable.

Currently, schools assess literacy and numeracy to meet standards and benchmarks. It will also become critical to ensure broader attributes such as resilience and development of a growth mindset are at the forefront. Analytical skills, communication, teamwork and developing a deep understanding of STEAM subjects will be of paramount importance to the future learner. Literacy, numeracy and these attributes must become inseperably linked, leading to well-rounded and successful young people.

Fisher, Frey and Hattie (2016)[2] make three interesting points in their research relating to literacy. Firstly, literacy is among the major antidotes for poverty; secondly, literate people have more choices in their work and personal lives; and thirdly, literacy becomes the currency for other learning. The ability to tell opinion from fact, to understand a changing environment, to connect with others within and beyond our community, and to do meaningful work in a global and increasingly automated economy, will all require higher levels of literacy and numeracy than before. 

Reassuringly, our Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 performed above national benchmarks in NAPLAN despite recent disruption to face-to-face learning. As a school, we continue to monitor, adapt and respond to the changing world, but we can never underestimate having strong foundations in literacy and numeracy.

Kate Croft
Deputy Principal – Learning

[1] Zhao, 2021. The Changes we need: Education post COVID-19.
[2] Fisher, Frey, Hattie, 2016. Visible Learning for Literacy.

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