Gareth Doodes, Head, Dover College

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The importance of independent thinking for young people in education today was emphasised by Gareth Doodes, Headmaster of Dover College, when he addressed members of the Rotary Club of Dover.

He emphasised the sea change in the environment within which teaching was now carried out. Old style education experienced by most adults in their school years was effectively based upon regurgitation of learned facts. Rather like filling a bucket with water, pupils were fed information and facts which they regurgitated in examinations and this applied not only in schools but also in universities. The key factor that has changed attitudes in education was the growth of technology and in particular the presence of the ubiquitous Iphone, giving pupils access to all manner of information and reducing the need for critical thought and independent thinking.

With the advent of the Iphone and IPad society had entered a digital age. In his view teaching was still analogue and needed to adapt and to think differently about the delivery of education. Children were particularly vulnerable, not only because of the impact of the digital age but also because of financial cutbacks which had resulted in sport, music and drama being pushed aside but in his view these were essential elements of creativity for students.

Stressing the importance of pastoral care in education Mr Doodes also held the view that sport was a central feature of school life and in his school, where one third of the pupils were overseas boarders he had  restored an emphasis upon sport. Dover College, he said, was proud to be in the centre of the town and he encouraged an interaction with the town and service to the community by the school. Notwithstanding the challenges of adjusting the teaching of pupils in the digital age he added that the world sees education in Great Britain as the Gold Standard.