The Why...


A child born today will be 32 in 2050, and 82 in 2100. They will likely see the 22nd century. When we look back at the turn of the 20th century, just over 100 years ago in 1900, how different was the world then? How different will it be in 2100?

Look back to the turn of this century in 2000. What didn’t exist that exists now, just 18 years ago? Technology is changing the world at a quicker rate than ever before.

A commonplace observation is that ‘people have always worried about technology replacing jobs, but new jobs have always been created.’ However, today is different. Technology in the past focussed on improving manual jobs, technology today focusses on improving cognitive jobs. Algorithms are making decisions that humans used to make. Algorithms currently tell GPs which drugs to prescribe, they tell bankers who to invest in, they instruct 15 million Uber journeys per day which direction to travel, they fly drones to survey buildings, and enable homeowners to sell their home without meeting an estate agent. Technology of today has two massive advantages over both their historic cousins and their human makers. They can connect and update. The ability to both connect and update will ensure technologies advantage over humans in many fields of work. Currently self driving cars are undergoing trials in many major cities throughout the world. 1.2 million lives are lost on the roads each year and research suggests much of this is due to driver error. Every taxi in the world would be connected, updated immediately with new road signs, accidents and legislation, programmed to never speed, to never jump a red light and unable to get tired. Road accidents could be significantly reduced. What would this mean for human taxi drivers?

How many other jobs could be affected?

Pupils in primary schools today may have many jobs in different industries by the time they retire. This means pupils need the ability to accept change, to reinvent themselves through self management, to lead and serve others, to understand technology and to understand the world.

In the world of the unknown, knowledge is no longer power, pupils have access to knowledge on any topic to an infinite level of detail. Power in the unknown world is how to use knowledge, this means the ability to reason, to problem solve, to think critically and to think creatively.



Pressure from employers to schools for new workers to have greater self reliance and individual autonomy has increased significantly in recent years.

One of the largest studies in this areas took place as far back as the 90’s.

The employment department funded six projects in 1994-1996 which argued that individual autonomy was a requirement of success in our modern society. It suggested that pupils are not always ready at entrance to take on an autonomous role. In 2018 with the technological transformation we can assume this gap is wider.

Further research supports this point and provides advice around how to implement a character curriculum:

  • Little (1991) suggests pupils need to be trained in capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision making and independent action.
  • Hurd (1999) believes we need to be cautious and there is a need for ‘careful preparation’ of learners and teachers before any degree of autonomous learning can be successfully implemented.
  • Perry’s work of the 1970’s suggests even the most able learners take time to develop new attitudes, therefore a programme to develop these skills needs to be fully integrated throughout a school.
  • Cottrell (2000) suggests that learners need to be guided toward autonomy over time as part of their skills development.
  • Fazey (1996) suggests that learner autonomy cannot be discussed without reference to skills development. Guiding learners towards autonomy can help them to identify their skills requirements.
  • McCombs and Marzano (1990) argue that learners need to understand the importance of ‘I’ in order to take personal control over activities. They state that opportunities should exist within the curriculum for reflection, planning and self evaluation to help develop the sense of I and shift the responsibility for the learning process from the teacher to the learner.