Why ACTS? Why is it relevant in our time?

A modern, forward-thinking assessment method is needed.

It is becoming very clear that the time has come for an integrated approach to educating our children towards a creative adaptability and compassion that is firmly rooted in a perceptive understanding of themselves and the situations that they encounter.

Why ACTS?

In having to focus so heavily on formal learning for summative, exam-based assessment in order to achieve a qualification, many schools currently find that their students are not being best served. The pressure to achieve within an exam-based system inevitably devalues time spent on integrating other important learning opportunities. Those students whose learning styles do not sit well with formal learning and summative exam assessments are at greater risk of becoming disillusioned, disengaged, stressed and even disruptive.

Even those who are suited to formal learning in the teenage years are also not best served in an exam-driven environment, in that such a form of assessment is necessarily backward looking and based upon what was important some years previously when the exam criteria were set, rather than preparation for acting in an increasingly complex and uncertain world. More damaging still is the way the current system places undue stress upon finite fact regurgitation and training to pass exams, rather than creative understanding and engagement with principles as continually developing concepts. A modern, forward-thinking assessment method is needed.

This problem is part of a wider global issue which has been highlighted by leading universities such as the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, as reported by Michael Brooks in his article for the New Scientist December 2013, Invest in Minds Not Maths. The Waterloo Global Science Initiative Learning 2030 summit in Ontario on the future of secondary education concluded that, “creating students that can think broadly will not be easy. It will involve abandoning the culture of grades and exams and moving to assessments centred on a student’s portfolio of projects…letting the students find and study what they are good at, once they have mastered a broad range of basic competencies”, (Brooks, 2013).

What is essential is a widely relevant and internationally portable qualification supported by curriculum development and CPD that recognises all learning and thinking styles. This would offer real mobility opportunities and a sense of educational community across borders, whether geographical or social. To achieve this the foundation principles of the current assessment system needed revisiting through an integrated approach. This has been the task of the ACTS project.

It is becoming very clear that the time has come for an integrated approach to educating our children towards a creative adaptability and compassion that is firmly rooted in a perceptive understanding of themselves and the situations that they encounter. The young people of today and tomorrow will need this level of sophistication to begin to address, in a positive and sustainable way, the complex global issues that they will inherit from our generation: from Climate Change to mass migrations, and from the challenge of finding sustainable energy and food supplies to addressing growing mental health issues. We need to make an investment of effort now, so that those young people will have the necessary inner tools they will need.

ACTS is based upon fundamental aspects of Steiner Waldorf Education which has an established international record of positively dealing with complex educational challenges – even serious issues of post-conflict trauma and war-affected or displaced communities – in a way often referred to as ‘healing’. It is founded upon shared human values and an understanding of child and adolescent development that transcend race, creed, gender, wealth or relative academic abilities. These principles make it equally relevant to, for example, Israel, Palestine, Haiti, Russia, USA, China, India, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and England. There are now over one thousand Steiner Schools across the world, with schools found on every inhabited continent. These schools are not restricted to affluent societies or individuals.

Read more at www.freunde-waldorf.de