As per Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result. So, indeed, most of us are insane. I will not go into how we function in relationships, career etc, as it will probably be a way too long post, but I will go to something we all share a love for: Education. Insanity at its best: we expect that if we bring the latest tablets in the classroom but will keep the same teachers, that kids will miraculously start loving school. We expect that if we bring new subjects in the curriculum, but keep the same paedagogical approach towards delivering and assessing learning, that students will love coming to school. We expect that our minds will un-wire all the negative things we have combined school with just because a few people like me say so. We expect that our kids will feel connected to their community, when their school is not.
I have probably said it a few times, but maybe I was not clear. Education needs people doing things completely differently. It needs people sane enough to risk and innovate like never before. It needs people that will challenge the basic elements of our schooling system. For example:
– School. The word. Even though it comes from a Greek word and you can say I am bit bias:), I think it should just be dismissed. Any by that i mean in all the languages around the world, whatever the word for “school” is. It doesn’t matter if you call it “The Future School”, “The School of the Future”, “Un-School” or “A Different School”, it is still a…SCHOOL. The word has one of the worst brands in the world, in any language you choose. In their free time, kids don’t build schools, they build houses on the trees, they play puppet-theatre, they play hide and seek, they build boats out of paper, houses with lego, they draw and they constantly move around, explore and ask. Is that what school is associated with? A place you can do all that? What if we would call this place “My Play-ground”, “The Lab” or what if we would let kids decide each year?
– The structure of School. For sake of efficiency we have limited School at a specific place, with specific teachers, time schedule and format; subjects, classrooms and so on. We need to realise and accept that this was done to serve the working parents, the industry and the need for production. It was not done so because it made sense from a paedgogical point of view. Learning takes place anywhere, anytime. What we need in order to form learning networks/communities (and NOT Schools) are a few key ingredients: a. facilitators of learning (media, like technology and people, mentors, coaches), b. an inspiring physical environment (healthy, safe, flexible and bright) and c. people that are curious to learn and co-create.
– Curious to learn and co-create. Right, easier said than done, isn’t it? Alright, so here is a scenario, for which a key factor is that the local community should take responsibility for it; which means this: The parent, the store manager, the teacher, the civil worker, the church should resume responsibility for the development of their kids. Their education or holistic development better described by the word paedia is a shared responsibility that requires shared leadership.
So, curiosity to learn comes with our nature. When we are not emotionally connected with something though, we just do not care about it. There are a few things we connect easier and faster emotionally with and some others not or that we never will. The facilitators of learning (NOT teachers) should play that role day by day; empower kids and students to connect emotionally with themselves, the community and the things that make their heart lose a beat. How? exposure to different experiences and learning stimuli, learning in nature, learning from the people in the community, learning from people from the other side of the world and so on. Finally, help them see the impact that learning has on them, not in their future CV, but as people, as human beings.
Co-creating is another thing. Our education is built upon the hypothesis that the kid/student/parent/community is the customer. That stakeholder should be satisfied and feel that is gaining something tangible, otherwise the school’s value is shaken, it becomes useless. What if the hypothesis would change and shift towards creating a culture of a co-creator, co-designer of the learning experience. The assumption that WE know what is best for our kids at all times is wrong and is turning them into people with no will, no critical thinking, people that copy and paste behavior. What if “MyPlayGound” was a learning experience, lived in different places and facilitated by many different people, co-designed with the parent, facilitator and child and would start with a simple question: What do you LOVE? And then, “What are your dreams?” and then… “What kind of people do you love? What is that you love about your friends and family?” Based on these 3 questions we can start building characters, people that operate from a source of love and are driven by a purpose. And we empower them and support them to fulfill that with the skills, competencies and knowledge they need.
Impossible you may think. If you think national strategies on a high level, 100,000 kids yes, of course it is impossible. The system will change from the bottom. It will change from the person and his/her immediate environment. Systemic, profound, authentic and sustainable change does not happen in masses. It starts from me, my child, his/her friend and the power of the one educator that is sane enough to do things differently…constantly.
If we really want change, there are no short-cuts. As there are no short-cuts in love. And kids, students, we, ALL learn only from the people we love.