Sunday, 1 June 2008

21st century Education - the Cayman Islands story continues to be told.... all over the world.

Standing by a 'signpost' at Rum Point last weekend, I was looking at the countries listed and thought to myself that everyone listed has had representatives either logging into my blog, the Ministry blog or attended presentations about the Cayman Islands' story of education transformation.
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It is the only place in the world to be undertaking the process of a total holistic transformation of every aspect of the education service simultaneously and the journey continues apace. It is attracting one hundred and ten countries visiting the Ministry blog and rapidly approaching that number hitting my blog - there is ever increasing interest in how the transformation process is being implemented, and especially the results so far.
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Additionally, it is amazing just how many people are discussing the work we are doing all over the world, in lectures, in magazines, in seminars and in discussions. When I accompanied the Minster to the World Ministers' Seminar on Technology in Education in London in January, his outline of the Cayman story was so popular he had to, unexpectedly, do two 'back to back' seminars to up to sixty four Ministers from all round the world. Professor Stephen Heppell and Prakash Nair mention us all over the place as they constantly travel internationally. Our architects, oWp/p from Chicago mention our innovative cutting edge secondary campus designs all over, from Italy, UK and the States.
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There are even people who have had little to do with any aspect of the process doing presentations based on the Cayman work, or writing articles (sometime inaccurately) - amazing really!
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The interest follows us around - as I visit London briefly at the end of this week I have already had notice that people will be asking me for more information about the transformation process, which is exciting, but not the focus of my visit.
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Our focus however, is not buildings, or systems - it is all about the students first and foremost and trying to ensure that whatever we have in place, it allows them to be taught in a relevant, appropriate way, utilizing their strengths, their skills and utilizing their technological abilities. It is about engaging them and exciting them in education whilst preparing them for the future demands of our employers and encouraging them to achieve the stage when they can can compete in the global workforce More than many countries, this is especially a key factor in the Cayman Islands with our international finance centre status and all accompanying opportunities, in addition to the very large tourism sector.
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Have we finished or got it all totally right? No, of course not, to both, but with our programme of constant evaluation, when we see any aspect going off course we can address the issue immediately and be prepared to be flexible in our methods to achieve the end result, and it IS paying dividends.
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I have been fortunate to have been involved from the very start. There is no doubt that the country has been brave, very brave - far braver than many would be. The secret is for us to continue to be brave for long enough as we approach the next crucial stages of the implentation journey and not allow ourselves to be distracted at any stage.
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if anyone is not sure - just ask the students! There are a large number of students, who are ambitious and excited by new approaches to learning, they know what they want and how they would like to be taught. Remaining the same is not an option.......... nor should it be!
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