“What are schools for?”

At SchoolsTechOz Conference in Melbourne hosted at Firbank Grammar School, Simon Breakspear delivered a thought provoking keynote in which he threw down a key challenge for all educators (and society) to consider.

Given as Alvin Toffler has famously commented,


Simon challenged us all to consider the challenging question:

“What are schools for?”

And with this key question, Simon suggested two key things to consider in attempting to answer this question.

1. Co-Creation and Personalisation

Content (information) and automation are now everywhere. If you ever need information, gone are the days of needing to go directly to the source to find it. From buying a car to seeing a doctor, all the information you need is now (or soon will be) clickable.

There no longer exists the asymmetry of information that so once defined the notion that ‘knowledge is power’. Instead, content is now free. It is now readily available. And it is readily accessible.

And yet, with automation and the loss of asymmetrical information that once helped give way to the notion that ‘knowledge is power’, Simon suggested that knowledge still holds power.

It is now just weighted differently.

Power now arises not from how much knowledge you know, but from how you apply it.

And because of this our educational system needs to shift the focus of schooling from the provision of knowledge to the application of knowledge (making it relevant and personal).

To do so, Simon argues that creativity, creation and collaboration will need to rise to the forefront of learning.

2. Making Learning Relevant

The easiest way to get someone to do something, is to get them to want to do it – an idea that Sir Ken Robinson has long popularly advocated.  

Unfortunately, Simon believes (and so do we) that we have so many students in school today feeling disengaged with learning because we aren’t making it relevant. More specifically, we aren’t making it relevant to them – and this is exactly what we’ve been working to tackle at myEd – to make it possible (and easy) for teachers to differentiate and personlize learning for specific students needs (thereby makign the learning relevant).

How can we making learning relevant?


Learning for an individual is nothing unless they can find a use for it. And it is here that Simon suggests that the true problem we face in education is not technical, but deeply, deeply human.

With an increase in technology, Simon argued that there has now developed a digital divide that has arisen from a motivational divide

Even as technologies provide access to learning in ways which were once only imaginable, people aren’t learning – less than 1% of people that start an MOOC course end up completing the course and suggests that it’s because we are faced with a global environment that is adaptive, contextual, and relational and yet we aren’t teaching learning in ways that are as equally adaptive, contextual and relational.

What is the answer?

According to Simon, what’s working globally is focusing on empowering students to solve problems that are worth solving for the solvers (so Project Based Learning – with student ownership over the problems).

And it’s here that technology can play a powerful role – not as the end in of itself but as a powerful medium to connect learners and facilitate them to solving meaningful problems.

Simon talked about how technology here can play a role in creating wall-less classrooms and breaking down year groups (which is what we’ve seen at schools using myEd to faciliate PBL which has been very exciting!)

Simon ended his keynote with a great Dr Suess quote:

‘unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not’.

At myEd we care. Deeply. And that’s why we’ve worked with teachers and schools across Australia over an 18 month period to co-create myEd App as a next gen teaching and learning platform with a focus on enabling personalisation and facilitating PBL.

Want to make learning more relevant for your students and start your first PBL unit? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you get started!