At ISY, we have three ISY Learner Outcomes. We want all of our students to leave ISY as:

  1. Compassionate Global Citizens
  2. Lifelong Learners 
  3. Agents for Positive Change

Over the break I was thinking and reading about what it means to be a lifelong learner. Yuval Noah Harari’s books are excellent if you’re thinking about what the future might hold and how you might need to adapt to it. 

In Homo Deus, he wrote:

‘Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts; a period of learning followed by a period of working. Very soon this traditional model will become utterly obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives, and to reinvent themselves repeatedly. Many if not most humans may be unable to do so.’

In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, he wrote:

‘To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and feel at home with the unknown. Unfortunately, teaching kids to embrace the unknown and to keep their mental balance is far more difficult than teaching them an equation in physics or the First World War.’

No-one wants to be learning online. As hard as we try and as good a job as we do, we all worry that our children are missing out on something. But these two quotes got me thinking that maybe we should stop worrying about what they might be missing and start valuing what we know that they are certainly getting – an education in ‘embracing the unknown.’ 

Every day, our Elementary School students see their families and teachers struggling to learn new skills, thinking of ways to overcome unexpected challenges, and adapting to meet them, all the while trying to ‘keep their mental balance.’ 

Never before have our children had such an insight into what it means to be a lifelong learner. It means being able to struggle, think, adapt and keep your head so you can apply what you know to whatever life throws at you.

It is strange to think that our children might be better for this experience if we keep struggling, thinking, and adapting with them. But if we want to develop lifelong learners, this is the time to do it!

Harari, Yuval N. Homo Deus: a Brief History of Tomorrow. Harper Perennial, 2018.

Harari, Yuval N. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Vintage, 2019.