Towards Global Learning Goals

“I love free thinking, but…”

What parents think about a learning revolution

To achieve a sustainable learning revolution requires support and action from learners and their parents (who must also be learners themselves). For our latest report, a small, international selection of parents told us their honest feelings about changes to their children's education.

Download: 'Parents and Learners'

Parental resistance is one of the biggest barriers…

  • “I love free thinking, [but] I sometimes think the children would also benefit from learning some things by heart […] such as times tables. A lot of time would have been saved if they had total recall by Year 3/4.”
  • “There just seem to be so many initiatives all the time that I think parents get fed up. Exam scores are another issue. Rightly or wrongly […] there has to be some means of measuring progress that isn’t subjective.”
A survey by Escape Studios found 71% of students interested in creative industries but 63% pressured by parents to do something more ‘traditional’.

…but parents’ doubts are genuine concerns for their children’s prospects…

  • Some parents we spoke to also believed that it was important to reintroduce “homework and teaching composition, spelling, grammar – all things which had been taken away,” even asking for more homework – that teachers needed to check and correct themselves. Some parents called on teachers to take greater responsibility towards education, to hold students accountable and “decrease their permissive attitude towards school work.”
  • “Adults are caught up in the race to the top and think that the formula to success is ‘winning’ at school. They resist changes that they feel ‘weaken’ the existing formula.”

…so to get parents on board, we need to show that a learning revolution is the best way to navigate the rapidly chaning world of their children’s future.

  • “The system doesn’t accommodate for my boys’ late maturity and as such they don’t shine like I know they can in the right system. But I don’t see the right system around”.
  • “Academics are strong, but where there is room [we should] allow children [to] remain to be delighted and amazed by art, music, books and poetry”.

How should we talk to parents about the learning revolution?

In order to overcome parents’ concerns, we have suggested ‘framing’ techniques that help campaigners for change have more persuasive conversations. Our conclusion is that we should avoid terms like ‘soft’ education, instead engaging parents on an education for the ‘whole’ of their child, and reassure them on assessment and preparation for the future. We hope that members of the wider movement for education change will take on these proposals and experiment with them. Getting parents on board may prove to be the political tipping point for achieving a learning revolution.

You can also download our other reports:


‘The World Needs Global Learning Goals’, outlines the exciting conversation happening in learning, the challenges we face, and how Towards Global Learning Goals is helping.


‘Kindling the Flame’ claims most people are learning the wrong things in the wrong way, proposes Global Learning Goals for all learners, and sets out the challenges we face to make them happen.


‘From Ferment to Fusion’ looks further at the obstacles to global learning goals. Using innovation and coalitions, we identify a practical action for each challenge.


‘Our Tech Manifesto’  includes our open letter to tech leaders to stir a ‘learning reawakening’. We set out how tech can solve education problems rather than just disrupt it.


‘Universities of the Future’ asks global education expertsexistential questions about the future of the university and starts to propose some answers.


‘Islands of Opportunity’ highlights countries and international institutions pioneering education of the head, hand and heart, and the lessons that they show us.

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© Towards Global Learning Goals 2019