Learning beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World

Learning beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World

Learning beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World

Learning beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World


This book argues that society should support young people to learn to take real responsibility in the world, rather than relying on teachers to develop the character of their students.


This book combines three things. First, it presents a general argument about how change in society is creating new educational challenges. Second, it presents examples of how educational innovators are beginning to meet those challenges, forging new forms of practice to supplement and enhance basic provision. Third, it analyses the implications of wider change and lessons from practice for the way that our education systems work in the future.

Education systems stand at a crossroads. On the one hand we are pushing a decades-old infrastructure to satisfy more demand, meet higher standards and deliver ambitious objectives. On the other we are creating a new set of institutions, with radically different characteristics, to meet the emerging challenges of lifelong learning. We must attempt to resolve the tension between these approaches if we want today's school students to become successful lifelong learners.

Achieving this requires far-reaching change, both to education systems and to our ideas of what education is for. But the agenda I set out is not a detailed blueprint, nor a Utopian wish list. The argument is grounded in existing, practical examples. The seeds of solutions are already beginning to grow, and the current system can be progressively transformed by a process of evolution and innovation.

The projects I describe are constantly developing: testing their effectiveness, learning from failure, extending and refining their provision and their objectives. This learning process is vital to the next stage of development in education. Local innovation and imagination must be supported by clear frameworks, rigorous standards and adequate resources.

Perhaps the most important recent development is the National Framework for Study Support, which will help create out-of-hours study centres in thousands of schools over the next three years. But support structures for active, community-based learning are only a foundation on which to build. The rest is a challenge for the whole of society: to recognise the need for change, and learn to do things differently.

Tom Bentley
August 1998

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