Greensprings: Expanding Learning Opportunities for Students

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With the commencement of a new academic year, Greensprings School, Lagos has announced a number of innovations that will broaden students’ horizons, provide more opportunities to unlock their creativity and innate abilities, as well as expose them to future realities and careers. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

In the past, parents chose careers for their children without considering their interests or passion. Hence it was common to see children in similar disciplines as their parents. It was also common to see people graduate in a particular field without an iota of interest in such field- just to please their parents.

However this practise is slowly fading away, as most parents now understand the need to allow their children to choose their careers and chart their future parts, some children still make mistakes because most times they are not sure themselves.

To prevent students from making wrong choices, forward thinking schools are now creating diverse opportunities and allowing students to re/discover themselves and their interests, unlock their potential and choose a befitting career path.

Greensprings School Lagos, in its usual manner of setting the pace with initiatives that are geared towards transforming the Nigerian education sector has announced that by October, it will launch the Lab at Greensprings School, comprising: Air and Sea Lab, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lab, Business Incubator, as well as College and University Readiness Centres.

According to the Deputy Director of Education at the school, Dr. Barney Wilson, the labs would help to provide the workforce in the leadership team for the future in Nigeria and the continent.

He said in the air and sea lab students would explore and research every aspect of air and water so they will seek to understand what is happening in their environment and come up with cutting-egde solutions that will help to resolve to issues in Nigeria and globally.

For instance he said the students will be involved in building underwater robots, learn to fly aeroplanes, explore not only air crafts but also sea crafts and also all creatures in the sea and understand the whole eco system.

“We hope to partner with industries here, we know there are ports in Lagos, we also an international airport. We also have companies that are involved in oil rigging and marine biology, so we hope to serve as catalysts for change in Nigeria.”

In the virtual reality and augmented reality lab, Wilson said students will use the technology not only to explore different aspects of education, but also different aspects of science and world issues.

He said the business incubators would allow students to start businesses that not only would impact Nigeria, but also will have worldwide impact. In addition to the labs, he said the two college career and university readiness centres, students will have the opportunity to research and explore colleges and universities of their choice here on campus. We know that such a lab does not exist now in Lagos or any part of Nigeria.

“There will be professionals in the lab who will have international relationships and also national relationships with colleges and universities and will be able to assist parents and students with not only knowing what universities expect, but also will be able to match their credentials and make the right choices for them.”

The deputy director explained that the air and sea lab will benefit the entire society as it will connect the people with the industries, adding “very few students in secondary schools in Nigeria are knowledgeable about the industry. There are many opportunities for companies to start and for students to go into leadership positions where they too can head some of these multi-national companies that have offices here. So the things that we are doing are going to provide that connection that is missing.”

He stressed that lack of connection between industries and schools gave rise to the initiative, adding that the school saw the opportunity and the gap.

“We were wondering that when our students leave where will they go, how will they connect with the jobs of the future. The jobs of the future are going to be heavily based on technology, students that are not on board with drones, virtual reality and cybernetics, reuro-networks, if they are not talking about augmented reality, then we have not prepared the students for the future that is already here. So we want to catapult education, not only in Greensprings, but in Lagos, Nigeria so as to meet with global needs for future leadership.”

Asked if the country is ready to embrace the technologies, he said there are a number of small companies that may seem invisible at this time that are deeply involved in virtual reality and robotics. “They are quiet because they don’t see entities like themselves on the rise. They are going to be very excited when they read about what we are doing here and we believe that when we build it they will come. And so we know that there are many people who want to make the connectivity faster and stronger.

“We are a thinking school so we expect our students to be able to blend practice with theory so that they can create new things, new business opportunities so that they can participate as leaders in the cutting-edge technological world that we live in. The labs and the new initiatives will not only allow us here to think smarter, push harder, it will be a catalyst for all of Lagos and all of Nigeria.”

He said the labs will be visually pleasing and will have enough gadgets in them so students will naturally come in and naturally be the geniuses that they are. We need to create more space for thinking and doing to take place

On how to get teachers to man the labs, Wilson said he just had a meeting with the existing teachers at the school to know their areas of interest and natural love and curiosity. “So the same thing will happen with students, so we create the space and they will come in.”

He said the lab will be open for all students from primary to secondary level so the challenge will be to create a lab that will be interesting to primary and secondary school students.

Wilson added that the school intends to start student-ran clubs, saying, “our newest core value is entrepreneurship. So it is like starting a business, the students will go through the entrepreneurial process of starting a club which will teach them leadership, entrepreneurship, how to take control and actually start something. These are the type of practical learning experiences that goes beyond rote learning, it is the application of what you know and the ability to start creating things.”

Asked if there will be lab period in the timetable and how the school intends to juggle it, he said the management has modified the time table and created one free period every day. We know that with the traffic issues and the fact that parents are busy and not all students are boaders, there will be a problem to do it after school. So we are providing the opportunity for this to happen during school hours. He described it as extended learning beyond the curriculum so students will not be assessed on them.

The Executive Director, Mrs. Lai Koiki said the school tries to ensure that its students are prepared for the future “and whatever it is that will make that happen we do.”

According to her, knowing fully well that this is the digital age, the school wants to expose the children to the realities of the future so that they will be ready to impact the environment positively with the gains of the digital world.

She said the aim is to let the students know that the future is for those that are versatile in these technologies.

Koiki, who refuted the claim that schooling is obsolete, however said there are new things that have come into the world that education has to embrace.

She said parents should expect that their children would show more interest in technology, adding that there are more resources online that they can take advantage of, so instead of just using technology for play, they need to use it to be creative because that is the future; they need to use technology in an innovative way.

While she agreed that some subjects are no longer relevant, Koiki said there is need to still retain them for now, while introducing new ones so that at the point when something will be discarded, there is already a replacement.

“For today those things are not irrelevant, but for the future where these children will operate they are very irrelevant, most of the subjects are irrelevant; not the subject, but the content that is irrelevant.”