The times they are a-changin...

1964. Fifty years ago... Bob Dylan expressed what he saw and what he felt. The dissonance of profound social, cultural and political change: civil rights, Vietnam, student protest... Past, present and future collide. The first assertion of the power of the voice of youth.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changing

2014. Fifty years later... and the times they still are a-changin' for our young people.

And even more quickly.

Just before half term I attended a thought-provoking follow-up seminar to share learning from my visit to Silicon Valley last May.


It explored the disruptive impact of new technology on traditional ways of doing things... And how we have to develop game-changing systems in response. Uber, for example, revolutionising the way we book taxis...


Or the insurance industry struggling to cope with the onset of driverless cars. What will cause an accident in ten years time? Will manufacturer error replace human error?

Driverless cars

Even multi-story or 'vertical' urban farms in the inner cities as a response to the challenges of climate change, population growth and soil erosion...

Vertical city

The future has never been less predictable. And the skills and mindset that we develop in our young people therefore more important.

It was in this context that comments from one of the contributors really resonated.

Tony Fish

Tony Fish is a 'digital entrepreneur', and co-founder of FabLab in London:


To succeed in this time of uncertainty, says Tony, young people need to be able learn, measure and adapt... And not to simply plan.

I tend to agree.

That's why we work with leading edge STEM partners to offer so many opportunities for our students to think creatively about the challenges of learning in – and for – the unpredictable future. For example:

Award winning engagement with the TeenTech Competition, designing innovative technological solutions to educational and environmental challenges...

TeenTech with James May

Our 'DigiGirlz' brilliantly designing, marketing and presenting new applications for a Windows 8 platform...


And project management placements with IBM...

IBM Think

One of which led to former Sixth Former, Sadie Hawkins...

Sadie Hawkins

...becoming the National Apprentice of the Year!

But as educational leaders we now face a further challenge. And an opportunity to press for further change.

Because there is still a dissonance that echoes in Dylan's lyrics from fifty years ago. The times they may be a changing, but the way in which we are compelled to asses young people's ability to succeed within them isn't. Twenty-first century skills and competencies continue to tested by nineteenth-century methods.

I'm a former Chief Examiner for History. Set the papers. Coordinated their marking. Have even written books about passing them...

History Texts

But why oh why, do we continue to exam what they know, can do and achieve working together in teams, sat in silence four feet away from each other with no access to enabling technology?

As a child of the 60s I'm with you, Bob... The times are a changing. And it's time for even more to change, too...