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☰ Lifelong Learning

Head's Blog

Lifelong Learning

Posted on May 17 2017

I attended the ISA annual conference in York last week. It was, as usual, a very interesting few days which covered a wide range of educational initiatives. I found the afternoon dedicated to leadership the most interesting session, mainly due to some of the constructive discussion between fellow heads around what makes a great leader. This led to many delegates discussing various colleagues and their leadership attributes. Many more familiar names of successful leaders and entrepreneurs were also discussed; Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama (not Donald Trump you’ll note), Warren Buffet, Teresa May and even Alex Ferguson!

According to Steve Jobs if you want to succeed in life you need to develop four basic, but important competencies:

1) creating a positive personal impact

2) becoming a consistently high performer

3) sharing a clear vision to all

4) develop lifelong learning skills

Now, I am nowhere near as successful as Steve Jobs (I wish), but in my opinion lifelong learning is the most important quality in developing and moving forward in life. It is the first step in becoming an outstanding performer.  In today’s fast paced world, if you don’t keep learning, you’re standing still and falling behind. However, the unfortunate truth is that most of us grow up and stop learning. We stop dreaming and become fixated on merely surviving the modern world of adulthood. We no longer look beyond the next week or month ahead? We no longer look to what we can improve? We no longer set ourselves goals or targets to aspire to?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The important message from the above video is that we should never stop learning. I have a thirst for knowledge and do my best to quench it through learning. I try to learn something new every day, but it can be difficult sometimes to achieve. Most of the time my learning is trivial, but sometimes it is profound. Regardless, I endeavour to keep on learning. 

On days when I feel as if I haven’t learned anything, I turn to a little book that I have called ‘Live and Learn and Pass It On’.  The subtitle is, “People ages 5 to 95 share what they’ve discovered about life, love, and other good stuff.”  I usually find something in there that satisfies. Here are a few of the learnings in the book that have helped me…

I’ve learned that if you wait until all conditions are perfect before you act, you’ll never act.

I’ve learned that if you want to get promoted, you must do things that get you noticed.

I’ve learned that 90% of what happens in my life is positive and only about 10% is negative.  If I want to be happy I just need to focus on the 90%.

These are little life learnings that I find helpful. Lifelong learning is a key skill for us all at Forest Park, not just for the pupils but for the staff as well. Professional development underpins our vision at school and all staff pursue training in their fields to ensure they are at the top of their game. They visit other schools, network with other professionals, attend courses and constantly stay up to date with new research ideas and initiatives. Working together the children and staff create an environment at Forest Park that encourages learning and a will to succeed. At Forest Park we:

…are humble.  We admit what we don’t know.  This is the first step in learning what we need to know.

…question the status quo.  We realise that because something is right today, it may not be right tomorrow.  We know that doing things “the way we’ve always done them” is not good reasoning.

…are intellectually curious.  We truly want to learn and find learning fun, interesting and stimulating.  We see life as a journey in which we are constantly learning.

…are willing to try new ideas.  We experiment and see what works.  When things work, we use them. When things don’t, we try again.

…are not afraid to fail.  We see failure as an opportunity to learn.  Just as we incorporate what works into our repertoire, we use failures as stepping stones to other experiments.

…are tolerant of ambiguity.  Learning creates ambiguity.  Pupils and staff are willing to let go of past ways of doing things in order to come up with new ways of doing things in the future. 

…focus on staying ahead of the pack.  We are adaptive – of new technology and new ways of thinking.  We realise that knowledge has a short shelf life today.  We keep learning to stay ahead.

The overriding undercurrent here is simple.  Successful learners are created at Forest Park and develop into outstanding performers. Outstanding performers remain outstanding performers by becoming lifelong learners. We continually expand our knowledge at school in order to get out in front of the pack and stay there. We begin our lifelong learning journey by focusing on our strengths and work to improve these strengths every day.  Building on our strengths helps us improve our weaknesses and helps us succeed in life.  

Remember what Benjamin Franklin had to say, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Nick Tucker

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