A New Progressive Era

BERLIN — 3 July 2017

Breakout session: Education for satisfied lives – is well-being possible?

3rd June 2016

Speakers: François Taddei, director, Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, France; Sonia Sodha, chief leader writer, Observer newspaper, UK

Chair: Sandro Gozi, secretary of state for European affairs, Italy

Sonia started off by suggesting that well-being was a very subjective notion and that we should instead look at different categories such as happiness, mental health, agency. She went om observing that there was no evidenced trade-off between hard and soft skills, or between high cognitive performance and well-being: schools can manage both. For this to happen, services around the school are critical, in other words a “holistic approach” to education. The transition between childhood and adulthood was particularly crucial in order to avoid the low skills, low-paid jobs trap.

François stressed that learning future technological skills was in fact key to future well-being unless technology benefits only the happy few. Everyone has to become a “centaur”, i.e. match personal, human skills to machine performance in a specific area. Therefore schools should teach human skills and promote different forms of intelligence. Originality, creativity will be key. Machines are very bad at setting goals and at giving meaning. The best schools are embedded in their local community and make kids think about how to improve it.

Some further ideas were mentioned in the conversation, such as strengthening school leadership, bringing more researchers into schools to help kids conduct experiments and develop curiosity, developing lifelong learning for teachers and proposing MOOCs to parents. Teaching should become a top, well-paid job. The problem of boys well-being was also mentioned. The stereotypes which some kids attach to themselves needed to be deconstructed.

Rapporteur: Renaud Thillaye