Catherine O’Farrell

Catherine O’Farrell

Catherine O’Farrell

Group Head

Athena Education Investment | UAE

Catherine O’Farrell

Will the education system post COVID be same?

“I sincerely hope not. Our education system has remained relatively unchanged for 200 years- an absolute dinosaur! Comparative to other industries central to societal development, education has stagnated beyond belief. Looking to tech where innovations like the internet, healthcare engineering and biohacking have catapulted the use of machines into our every moment of existence. Looking to logistics where electric and driverless cars along with vastly improved communications mean that globalisation is a real and powerful force driving development to the point where more people die now because they eat too much than they eat too little. Education is one of the few necessary industries that has not kept up- until now. COVID has shot the industry in the foot and made it jump start causing the shift to blended and more accessible models of education. All we need now is to revise our curricula to reflect today’s world- not that of pre-covid 19th century!”

How much is a “right exposure” of technology to students? OR How essential is amalgamation of technology in teaching?

“There is no “right exposure” I think, if we look at our daily lives and how we live, technology is integrated into every waking and sleeping moment. Whether its something as simple as the fridge keeping your milk fresh or as complex as data analysis. Students of today need to learn how to manage their time and wellbeing on an individual basis. We should be teaching students how to be efficient learners and tech users so that they can harness tech to support their growth and development in a positive manner.”

There is a lot of workload on teachers- How are we making sure of their well-being?

“Teacher workload has historically been heavy and it has worsened, in my opinion, significantly since the move to online learning. In order to tackle this, we need to train our students to be self-starting, independent and innovative learners where a task can be posed and learning can take place that is student driven and student centred. Teachers should be moving away from instruction and heavy workloads with hours of preparation and marking. Rather they should be acting as facilitators, encouraging critical thinking and developing skills in students rather than content.”

How is this conference benefitting the education community?

“Any sharing of practice supports its community. Gathering industry experts together to share their experience and knowledge and bringing that to a wide audience can only enrich practice and empower the teaching community to improve and grow. It’s also a great networking opportunity where participants can discover and reach out to like-minded people to grow their repertoire of knowledge through the power of the collective.”

What (3) important things we keep in mind while indulging in the new style of teaching.

  • Take risks- try out a new technique or technology- go for it and don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Be mindful of your personal time – working from home means there is always a work presence. Fine your cut off and stick to it.
  • Be curious – ask people what they are trying out, read what is happening in the community on twitter and on YouTube and give something new a go.

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