Today, Boris Johnson has written about ‘damsonomics’, the art of adapting to reap bountiful and unintended harvests when others were awaited but failed. It’s a point well made and yet one that current education policies emanating from the UK Government seem incapable of addressing. ‘Employability’ is a much-used term but educating only the young with skills that fit what employers need today is short-sighted.
To continue Boris’s analogy, the forlorn who await their damson crop in vain are those who learn a skill or a tick-box competence in isolation, never linking it to other skills nor seeing the wider context. Those who transfer their attentions to more successful harvests, this year’s ‘apples’ and ‘blackberries’, have transferable skills that allow them to recognise similarities in fruit and employ slightly adapted processes to make worthwhile products. For that to occur, the education ‘farmer’ needs to sow and nurture curiosity, experience, creativity, reflection not just this year but every year, from pre-school to extreme old age. As the debate rages on about the lack of UK Government support for ELQs and lifelong learning (see jiscinvolve.org/he-in-general/) it is down to each and every one of us to do what we can for ourselves, our families and wider communities. As the US, mainland Europe and UK academic years begin, its time to harvest old skills, put them to use and develop new ones.