Being critical – in a good way

I have had the privilege to spend the last two Fridays mingling with renowned thinkers and practitioners in two very separate fields. It’s our job at FACE to link the two.

Over a week ago, I was at the Sunday Times Festival of Education at Wellington College. It’s an opportunity once a year for teachers to step away from the daily grind to be inspired and think deeply about what school should be and learn from those who are at the leading edge.

At the end of last week I was at the Innovation Farm, a ‘shop window’ for the crop research organisation, NIAB, in Cambridge.  An MP, a Cambridge professor and a gathering of industry heads were learning about the work of the Institute, and giving consideration to how this can be disseminated to farmers, the  wider industry, and the public at large.

A recurrent theme of both was about adapting to the times we are in. On one hand, the rate of change in our society, and the proliferation of information makes it all the more important that children (and teachers) learn how to use information critically and wisely. On the other, changes in climate, population and consumption patterns means that research and development in agri-food is more important than ever and also needs to be understood by the public.

Too often, debates about farming and education are politically-led or ideologically founded. Politics and beliefs are an important part of being human, but it is essential that we all know the ‘filter’ through which information is presented to us. As learners and consumers we need to make up our own minds by weighing up evidence and values and knowing the difference between the two.

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