Eton head: Children will teach themselves

The Telegraph, 07/05/15 in the future, students' interaction will have greater importance in the classroom and boarding schools are well placed to adapt to future learning, says HMC member Tony Little, headmaster of Eton College.

Children will teach themselves as staff become “helpers” rather than instructors, the outgoing head of Eton College has said as he predicts a rise in the need for boarding schools.

According to Tony Little, teaching will move away from teachers being at the centre of the classroom and instead they will help pupils make sense from the plethora of knowledge they process from online sources.

Mr Little also said boarding schools will become a more relevant model of schooling as teachers embrace more flexible teaching, involving the use of the internet, videos and a focus on students’ interaction at school rather than homework.

However, figures point to decline in the popularity in boarding in the last three decades.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Little said: “Young people’s ability to access information and to acquire knowledge is going to develop at an exponential rate and they are going to need teachers to help them navigate this.

“Teachers will be much less didactic than they used to be a generation ago and much more helpers - people who actually encourage and enable young people to sort the wheat from the chaff, to be able to identify what really matters in the information that they are dealing with."

He qualified his remarks. Mr Little said: "The notion of a classroom with a bunch of tables may well be [less relevant] but I think there will still be a place for it. This is not throwing everything away."

Ahead of a speech at the Boarding Schools Associations’ conference in London, Mr Little also said boarding will be more relevant because it has the structure to allow flexible teaching.

Mr. Little said: “The value of a school will be more clearly defined by the community because it is going to be possible to do a lot of your learning virtually. So why do you need to go to a school? Or a university for that matter?

“Schools particularly work as communities of human beings, people face to face dealing with each other. This is crucial in the way young people grow.

“Boarding schools are going to be seen as more relevant in the future and not less.

“In many respects boarding schools are very well geared to provide down time, students are in the same place the whole time, you don’t have to organise things in a segmented way.”

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