The delivery of education is changing and Ashburton College principal Ross Preece is committed to ensuring his school is at the forefront of that change.
He’s an advocate of the move towards project based learning that is designed to equip students for a working world of the future, and last year outlined to college parents the way that would change the delivery of education.
Project based learning was a significant change from the traditional silo style of learning where a curriculum is divided into subjects.
Instead it sees inquiry based learning where subjects were integrated.
Next year Preece will have an opportunity to learn from international leaders about that change when he undertakes a study programme at Harvard University, funded by the Advance Ashburton community foundation through its $10,000 leaders’ scholarship programme.
“This is about the future of education at Ashburton College and accepting that change in education is coming,” he said.
There would always be a focus on skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, but you would be more likely in the future to see problem solving and communication take the place of rote learning and repetition, he said.
“As technology transforms access to information, the traditional role of teaching to impart knowledge had become far less relevant.
“With computers and artificial intelligence increasingly replacing jobs, it is even more important to emphasise the need to develop a school system that teaches and enhances the soft skills, dispositions such as communication, collaboration, resilience and creative problem solving,” Preece said.
With the college to undergo a $50 million rebuild, he said it was important to understand the shape that change would take and the impact it would have on the style of buildings required for future learning needs.
“We’ll be designing our new school for the next three generations.”
His scholarship will see him attend a one-week education leadership course at Harvard University that will look at the direction education is moving into the future.
In addition, he plans to visit schools already committed to project based learning to see first-hand how this is working.
“This will give me first-hand knowledge and it’s perfect timing with the new school coming.”
In announcing the scholarship, Advance Ashburton chairman Trevor Croy said that with Preece’s proven track record for positive school and community transformations, the college was in safe hands.
Two additional scholarships were also awarded thanks to the generosity of Sir Graeme Harrison, Croy said.
These were to Lisa Anderson, a Leaders’ enhancement scholarship, and Katrina Palmer a Leaders’ development scholarship.
Preece will take up his scholarship in term three next year.
The Advance Ashburton Leaders’ scholarship will open again in February 2020 for applications.
– By Sue Newman