Last week has been excellent week for our students both in class and out on the sports field. I have been both proud and delighted to share in the successes of our students, particularly our Primary footballers! The hard work and good character of our students is something I delight in as well as their language abilities. Malaysia is a unique nation with at least three commonly spoken languages. I am full of respect for our students who ably move seamlessly between these languages and commonly embrace others. In an ever shrinking world where communication and fluency becomes ever more important, I am heartened by the fluencies evident in our school.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “fluency” as “the ability to express oneself easily and articulately.” This key skill has been an important aspect of communication throughout history. However, our current students are facing a world that requires further fluencies in a wider range of subjects beyond language. The educator, Ian Jukes, affirms that established educational models teach the ability to solve problems in  “a show-and-tell manner (we show students the problem, and tell them how we got the answer) that has fostered a culture of dependency, rather than discovery. But if you look at today’s economy, you’ll discover that most left-brain tasks are already automated or outsourced via Internet in a global economy, leaving jobs that require whole-brain thinking. This means creativity and problem-solving applied in real time. The 6D system is a logical, thorough, and relevant approach for tackling problems!

This is an interesting observation from a respected educational guru who has worked as a Primary and Secondary School Principal for many years. So, what does he mean by fluencies?  Jukes cites a “6D system” of learning that focuses on problem solving using the following approach:

Defining the problem so as to establish what challenge it is that has to be overcome.
Discovering a solution through investigation that inevitably involves failure.
Dreaming / Imagining / Reasoning to form a process to solve the problem involving informed trial and error.
Designing a problem solving  process that is accurate and effective.
Delivering and communicating the problem solving process to peers and others.
Debriefing and evaluating the whole experience so as to refine it in the event of new challenges.

Whilst, at first glance, this may appear to be the stuff of university level researchers or space exploration engineers, it can be seen every day at Taylor’s International School Puchong at the youngest levels.  The learning through play approach I have written about previously fosters exactly this approach to problem solving and to learning; preparing our learners for the challenges of IGCSE and far beyond. Whilst the level of sophistication inevitably and rightly increase significantly as children move through the school, the fundamental concepts can be found in the Nursery years and developed through interaction with friends and family at home. 

I have often been told that the fears and uncertainties about what the future world will look like and how today's children will succeed or fail in it are very much the fears and uncertainties of today’s adults whose thinking is often constrained by an education system that is rapidly developing in response to a changing world. Like the dodo, the age of testing to produce a “score” that often lacks any relevance to ability and achievement other than to produce a top quartile percentage, is heading towards extinction. The key to decoding and, more importantly, to preparing students for the future is very much in letting go of the boundaries that many of us have pre programmed into us from our educational experiences in favour of embracing a dynamic, often very foreign system of learning. I commend you therefore to visit our early years classes and see this learning in action.

More information can be found here:

Ian Jukes - The Committed Sardine

Andrew Churches, the 21st Century Teacher

Wishing you a positive week ahead.

David Flint 斐迪偉
Principal of Taylor’s International School Puchong