An educationalist's perspective of future heritage

by Tara Walsh, Senior Learning Designer @ MakeMatic

Northern Ireland has a proud history of creativity and innovation.

From the Ulster overcoat, made famous by Sherlock Holmes, the Kelvin scale to Viagra. Yes, Viagra. Interesting fact: Dr. Wallace Dinsmore from Belfast was part of the team who were working on a drug to treat angina in 1999, when they discovered its interesting side effects.

But what place does creativity and innovation have in the education of our children?

It should be front and centre along with other essential 21st century skills: collaboration, communication and collaboration.

But is it just the education system that is responsible for ensuring that our youngsters are ready to thrive in this ever changing world?


Of course not!

There is a lovely African proverb: It takes a whole village to raise a child.

And if that village is Belfast, it is incumbent upon all of us who live in this ‘village’, to ensure that we all take responsibility to help raise our children.

But what does all of this have to do with design week and it’s theme future heritage?

Future heritage can mean many things. As an educationalist, I think it’s time that we all start sharing the load.

Too long have we seen the education of our children as the sole realm of teachers. And whilst they continue to do a mighty job, it’s not just their responsibility to prepare children for the 21st century.

Yes it’s true, we could start with redesigning the education system. Getting rid of standardised testing would be a start.

Unfortunately change doesn’t happen overnight.

What we need to start doing is acknowledging the important place parents and outreach have in the education of our young. We also need to stop blaming all the ills of the education system on our teachers.


Sports teams, scouts and guides, coding and chess clubs; these activities and others like them are run by parents and volunteers. People who have a passion for what they do, a desire to see children have the opportunity to experience new things, and of course to aid the great the work our educators do in our schools.

Like teachers, these parents and volunteers work tirelessly so that our children can develop important 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

Future heritage in the education space, is about changing the lense in which we view education.

It’s about acknowledging that it is not just educators who are responsible for seeing our children thrive in the 21st century, but viewing it as the responsibility of the whole ‘village’.

Tara Walsh is Senior Learning Designer @ MakeMatic

Sign up for:

The Design Experiment on Saturday 12th of November @ Ormeau Baths here


The Emoji Design Workshop for 8 - 14 year olds on Sunday 11th of November at Ulster Museum here