From time to time I happen to be invited to talk/present/lecture at various seminars and conferences. Not that I’m too smart or anything, but there’s simply not so many people and companies that are genuinely paying attention or investing into modern HR practice and CSR.
These invitations include guest lecturers at Universities, student seminars, and once I was even trying to explain CSR to a bunch of not-so-keen-to-learn SME people.
This time, though, I was invited to (together with a colleague of mine) think about a 90 minutes workshop for 40 high-school teachers from 20 European countries (well, in the end there were 20 from 10 countries, but anyways…). Now that’s a challenge – how and what do you teach people that make their living by teaching? Sure, we’re in the same field of work – education – but we doubted that our approaches and way of thinking are anywhere similar. Nevertheless, we wanted to give our best to make this time useful for them, so we decided to try to challenge their views and give them some space to think and talk about the future of education in high schools.
Name of the workshop was “Creativity and Innovation” and we started it with a 20 minutes presentation about the world enormous growth in last 200 years, how everything changed (ways we communicate, cars we drive, shops being online today etc) except how classrooms look like (they look almost exactly the same in last 100 years, if not longer). We also added a few slides about modern technology (Kindle, audio books, social media etc), then about the switch between Generations Y and C (Gen C – born after 1990 – connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community-oriented, always clicking), and finally we gave them a food for thought before splitting into working groups – a paradigm shift:
–1990 – we are using knowledge
–2000 – we are involved in learning
–2010 – we are creating the knowledge together.
This provocation kinda worked and this cool group was eager to discuss openly situation in their countries (Georgia, Turkey, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Austria, Israel, Macedonia, Serbia…) and give ideas and good case practices to be worked on towards creating a better school in the future. After some 45 minutes (how convenient) of rotations on these topics, the results are 3 flipcharts with a lot of cool stuff on them. And this is how, based on these teachers, the schools should look like in the future:
Environment (how classrooms should look like, seating arrangements, space for leisure, school appearance, the appearance of the school yard etc)
teamwork, different rooms for various purposes, out of school activities, visits and exchanges (business), computers with internet, a place to relax, more colours, school tv, radio, newspapers, website, tv hall (for lectures), volunteer work for the school and community, competitions, blogs etc.
Teaching / knowledge transfer methods
analyze the needs (what and how do they want to learn?), analyze types of learners (most lectures are auditive, while visual people are ignored…), encourage especially those that are motivated, create a link between student and teacher, teacher must be leader/facilitator/guide, technology and social media should be used more, students should be taught how to learn and to be motivated to search for more knowledge, exchange programs should be encouraged (especially intercultural ones), e-learning as a support to traditional methods
How to support/facilitate effective communication (teacher – student and student – student)
teacher needs to be a mentor, permanent access (e-mail, facebook, chat), there should be no fear, active learning through interactive methods, teacher should be a marketing manager – sell his product, trust is crucial, groupwork.
As you can see, there are cool ideas and there are awesome ideas. On the other side, some of those ideas are already in place in many schools in the western world and some are really easy to be implemented. But I honestly did not hear many inspirational and visionary ideas, not at all. Instead, they were listing basically what they hear in the news, on seminars they visit from time to time, or what ministries in their countries keep promising before every elections.
Except for one really big idea: “Let students create schools they will enroll”
Now that’s what I call an idea! A bold, visionary idea that could change everything. Ask the end users how they want to be served with products. Evolve.
Even in the presentation before the workshop, we used slides and ideas from visionaries such are Thomas W. Malone
(The Future of Work
) and Marcus Orlovsky
(Bryanston Square Consulting
), people that are already trying to change things (especially the latter) and I’m really happy that these high-school teachers had enough capacity to come up with such a big idea. I mean, regardless of the development of our countries, we all know that education/school systems are the hardest to be changed. Just look at Bologna system and how slow the implementation is…
So, the challenge now is to figure out what to do with this. I know I will share the results with the participants and the organization that brought them together – Junior Achievement
, as well as with Mr. Orlovsky that is trying to do something similar in the UK. But what else can we do? What else can we tell them and encourage them to do?
Is there anyone out there that shares this idea that schools should be completely redesigned to support creativity and innovation and most importantly designed by students themselves? How should that look like?
Please, do share your thoughts…