A young person’s stirring call for radical new thinking in education

Kayhan Ali is currently young mayor of Enfield. He is an articulate and engaging 17-year-old with big ideas and big ambitions. In particular, he has clear ideas about the failings of the current education system and of the new thinking that is required. If we want to build a world-class education system that properly meets the needs of our children, we need more than just the expertise of academics and policymakers, of teachers and non-teaching staff, and of parents and other stakeholders. We must also listen carefully to the thoughts and ideas of young people who are experiencing education now — people such as Kayhan Ali.

Kayhan is passionate about empowering young people. At the core of his thinking on education is the belief that the current approach is letting young people down and especially that the privileging of a traditional academic curriculum — coupled with an outdated exam system — means that schools are failing to provide young people with an education that properly prepares them for life.

Kayhan came up with the idea of Dream It Youth, a community organisation whose website says it is “dedicated to educating young people and allowing them to make informed decisions for their own future.” It aims to create learning materials to help teach young people “the fundamentals of politics and economics”, starting with year 6:

The reason we chose those two subjects is that they’re probably the least taught, unless you picked them, but they’re probably the most important.

Kayhan Ali, from his The Teachers’ Point of View interview with TJ Juttla

It is striking how much of Kayhan’s thinking about education and about the priorities of young people in general mirrors the critique of the current education system, and particularly of the national curriculum in England, put forward by the Forum for Life-Based Learning.

For example, Kayhan is concerned that key skills for life are undervalued in the exams-focused system. Dream It Youth highlights what it calls “DIY transferable skills”: critical thinking, teamwork, listening and communication. Communication, Relationships and The Mind (which incorporates brain-based learning) are three of the nine themes that provide the framework for a life-based learning curriculum.

Kayhan is also a passionate supporter of the environment and of animal rights. Life-based learning is made up of three life areas, the third of which — World — brings together the Plant Life, Animal Life and Physical World themes. The underlying concept uniting the three themes is the interdependence of all living and non-living things on the Earth and humanity’s moral imperative to care for the planet and safeguard its wellbeing.

You can learn more about Kayhan on this LinkedIn page written by TJ Juttla. TJ creates podcasts and videos with ‘changemakers’ and makes these available via LinkedIn and Teacheroo to inspire change in education and challenge the status quo.

Kayhan is a superstar sixth former who is currently 17 at a school in Enfield, North London. In education we often hear the views of those in power but we never hear what the students have to say so after speaking to Kayhan I had to let him share his views on education.

TJ Juttla on Kayhan Ali

TJ also features on the Forum’s Changemakers page, a directory of education changemakers whose ideas on provision for primary-age children [5- to 11-year-olds] resonate with the life-based learning approach.

If you would like to be included on our Changemakers page, you can contact us here.

Kayhan Ali Interview with TJ Juttla

Click to watch the full interview

Dream It Youth

The Dream It Youth website


Our directory of changemakers in education

The image at the head of this article is a template used by TJ Juttla to promote his podcasts and videos about education. You can find TJ’s podcasts by clicking here.

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