Month: November 2012

EduCoup’s Evolving Plan

Well, the tentative grand plan.

EduCoup started out as a blog but our intention is for it to evolve far beyond that. Here are some of the plans we have in the pipeline for the New Year.

  • Radio. By the end of December we hope to have a fifteen to twenty minute radio documentary uploaded. Next week I will be going into a local Secondary School to interview the students, teachers and principal on their experience of the current system. We’re also going to be doing regular podcasts on the grassroots coup come January/February.
  • Animation. Beyond that we’re working on a story concept for a short animation which would ‘show’ the process of changing education rather than ‘tell’ it. It would be a good way to spread the message efficiently in a colourful medium with a compelling narrative. Lauren, the EduCoup Designer (and my much loved partner) is going to try to bring this to life.
  • Workshops. We have plans to provide workshops in schools with the visit in a weeks’ time for the radio doc serving as something of a demo. The workshops would involve students and educators (as well as parents where possible) working together to visualize on paper their ideal learning situations. Essentially the workshops would take the form of democratic discussions on everyone’s experience and opinions on learning. Hopefully I’ll get onto the folks at Imagining Learning for some advice on how best to conduct such a workshop soon.
  • Learn-ins. Students and teachers boycott school for a day to hold a fun day/conference where everyone is free to discuss on a level footing how they believe learning should be structured (or unstructured as the case may be). It’s outside school but they’re called learn-ins because realistically, with the weather in Ireland they’re going to happen indoors… We may also look at the possibility of organizing boycotting of certain regularly held standardized tests. Though we will always favor collaborative and cooperative methods over coercive and subversive ones.
  • Video Documentary. Using footage from learn-ins, interviews and the workshops, as well as interviews with individuals and organizations blazing new trails, we feel there is a big opportunity to make an impact with a documentary.
  • An EduCoup Book. We’re currently working on an EduCoup book, it’ll draw a lot from the prospective interviews and other projects and hopefully tie everything together into a concise and digestible narrative.
  • EduCoup Global. We’re trying to Crowdmap projects like Incited and EduCoup, as well as like-minded people all over the world. At the moment the basic set-up for the crowd map is ready but we’re working on increasing its functionality and visual appeal. We may have to enlist some help for that as neither of us are experts.

We have our goals, now we’re mapping the course to attain them.

Essentially the form of EduCoup isn’t fixed, it’s meant to be a flexible entity that will change and adapt so as to make the biggest possible positive impact on the way people learn. At its finest learning is flexible and you learn something best when you over-learn it and learn it through a variety of mediums. Likewise EduCoup hopes to bring the conversation on learning and education to as many mediums as possible, as different people may find one mode of communication more engaging than another.

If you have any feedback on the plans for EduCoup or any ideas for what we could do, we’d be absolutely thrilled if you left a comment. Thank you for your time.

EduCoup Prompting Lively Debate

Some of the reaction to EduCoup has been very encouraging and it was great to see our post ‘The Flaws In Our Education System’ inspire such an involved and lengthy debate here on ‘The Learning Revolution’ Facebook page.

The discussion is captured below in screenshots using the handy ‘snippet tool’.

What’s your take on this? We’d love to hear it!

Charting A Map Of The Learning Revolution

Ushahidi is an open-source software platform that plots a set of particular incidents, submitted by people via cell phone text messages, onto an online map. Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. It has also been used in disaster relief in Pakistan and to map crime incidents in Atlanta.

What if we used this software to create an interactive online map of the learning revolution? It could be filled with the sites of important talks like Ken Robinson’s ‘Schools Kill Creativity, with the locations of alternatives to school such as Compass. with the towns of proud home-schoolers, with initiatives like Imagining Learning and their listening sessions, and with the locations of schools where students or teachers are unhappy and want change.

How amazing would that be? A map of the world where you can see the physical location of like-minded people, click on their links, see what they’ve done, contact them. Mental!

For a clearer idea of what Ushahidi is all about, take a look at the video below.

I think we could create an exciting and convincing visual to spread awareness both of the problems in education and the growing numbers of solutionaries working to overcome them.

What do you think?

Replacing Schools With Centres For Self-Directed Learning

Compass Teens | Centre for Self-Directed Learning.

Compass teens is an alternative to school – a physical base for learners to use as a springboard for their personalized education, be it through their own projects, internships, building portfolios or one-one-tutorials. Its a very simple idea and I believe that every community should have a Learning Hub like this. A place for all ages to go and share their questions and dreams with other, real, face-to-face people. Click on the link at the start of the post to check it out!

There is a lot to be said for, and gained from, online learning. But learning is a social endeavor and while I don’t believe attendance should be regular or compulsory, there is no available technology to replace the value of face-to-face interaction.

Compass is a wonderful example of a form this type of Learning Center could take. And it is important that the emphasis is on learning, which is something people do for themselves, because they want to, and education, which is something that is done to people.

This way’ education’ is much more fluid, it starts with and spreads out from the learner, and can be organized and adapted as it goes along. There would no longer be any need for oceans of red tape to be hacked through by lobbyists as though they were Sleeping Beauty’s prince hacking through the forest of thorns. After perhaps years of campaigning, to slay the dragon of the old curriculum, only to find something else was wrong, and would take another gargantuan bureaucratic battle.

This way there would be no need for a set in stone curriculum,  rote learning, standardized tests, boring classrooms, force-fed learning or dogmatic teachers. This seems like a far more adequate proposition than High-School.

Students could make use of online resources as was required, people of all ages would learn together based on shared interests, what was in their hearts and minds rather than the date on their birth cert. Rather than taking ages to set up extensive internship  and apprenticeship schemes these things could be organized on a basis. People could explore what interested them and learn skills as was necessary to continue their exploration.

There are some interesting points made here in the Compass FAQ, and I recommend taking a look.

It sounds good to me. How about you?

I have a lot of respect for Bo Adams here as a teacher admitting to not having listened to his students as much as he could have. But he’s made up for it with this blog post for one, which shares some valuable insights and useful links.

it's about learning

Empathy.

In studying design-thinking in education, I have been seriously educated in the incredible importance of empathy. In embracing PBL, I have been humbled by the essential nature of empathy. Through such endeavors as “student for a day,” I have been reminded to practice empathy as a teacher. As an aspiring change agent for educational leadership and school transformation, I have been taught many lessons about empathy.

Empathy.

I’m embarrassed how little empathy I have shown to current students about possible changes and enhancements in schooling and education. Why haven’t I asked them more about what they think, feel, want, and desire? Am I too busy? Do I think I already know? Do I think “father knows best?” Why haven’t I asked…and listened?

On too many occasions to recall, I have read from Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Switch. The passage I gravitate to most is the chapter about…

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SWiTCHing Up Education

KAS-03

Today we have our first interview on EduCoup with 24-year-old Jaime Lee, founder of ‘Kids at SWiTCH’ , a weekend program in Chatswood, Australia that looks to foster entrepreneurial traits, financial literacy and initiative in kids from age five to ten by employing fun and engaging methods. Jamie told me how ‘Kids at SWiTCH’ differs from mainstream education, about the philosophy behind the program and her thoughts on  education in general.

Some of the main criticisms EduCoup has directed at mainstream education are of the practices of standardized testing , excessive rote learning, and a lack of humanity in the way kids are taught – not to mention the absence of action based learning, and peer-to-peer learning. ‘Kids at SWiTCH’ tackles all these issues head on. Jaime explained the format of the classes, and gave some of her take on what’s wrong with the kind of education many of us consider the norm.

The concept:

“Within a mini-economy, the children apply for jobs according to their interests and passion. When these kids are enjoying their jobs, work becomes a learning experience rather than just a means of making money. My mission was (and is) to not only foster financial literacy in each of my “kids”, but do so in a way which translates their instinctual passion and sense of play into a sense of unshakeable purpose.”

Learning by doing:

“Do you still remember when we were kids and we imagined ourselves as photographers, fire fighters, teachers and police officers? Well, I simply wanted to emulate that feeling and to bring that imaginative world into reality for kids. Instead of teaching them “about” the world, my goal is to teach them “within” a world that is filled with possibilities. Hence, I’ve created the concept of a mini economy.

In this mini economy, the children apply for jobs according to their interests and passions. I believe it is through intrinsic motivation that real learning can occur. When children enjoy their jobs, work becomes a learning experience rather than just a means of making money.

The children have ownership over their money. They set financial goals for themselves and can choose whether they want to spend their money at the shops or save it at the bank. However, every week the children are charged with rental fees for things such as their chairs as part of their daily expenses. If don’t pay, they sit on the floor. Currently, I have two six-year-old kids who have already bought two chairs, and they are now renting them out to their friends at a higher price!

Through tangible and vivid experiences, the children quickly learn that buying assets such as chairs, beanbags and shops can help them generate passive income. During the course, the children are also faced with a variety of economic circumstances, such as inflation, deflation, paying taxes and losing their jobs. This process allows the children to understand the importance of making investments and to create a second source of income.

My goal is to empower them. I want them to feel like they’ve taken command of a body of material and can actually do things with it in the real world. I’m not interested in teaching them the skills to ‘survive’, but the skills to ‘thrive’.

Different creative thinking styles are fostered here. The creation of classroom businesses/shops give children an abundance of opportunities to learn from their own experiences and apply their knowledge in new ways. I also love involving children at an early age with the joy and benefit of giving. One of the kids’ favourite activities is to exchange letters with our Sponsor Child, Alvin. Mr 9 once said this to me, “Jamie when I have more money, I want to help a lot of people.”

Mentally I am empowering these kids to look for opportunities to be the architects of their own learning. Emotionally I am helping them to see that they are capable of making enormous contributions to society. And socially I am mentoring them to work together and to take their play seriously.

Here’s a website that Mr. 8 has created by himself(We here at EduCoup recommend checking this site out. Mr. 8, or Divyesh Malhotra, should be very proud of the work he put in to get it online.)

He is now in the process of adding a shopping cart onto it. From my observation, when these kids are given the opportunities to discover their passion, they become audacious in trying new things, and they move, learn with a much stronger purpose.”

Get Up One More Time Then You Fall:

“At 23, straight after I graduated from university I took a steep learning curve and got straight into the unknown. The first information day for Kids at SWiTCH wasn’t quite working. Whilst, the room was packed with supportive friends and family, none of the potential clients actually attended. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. The weather was terrible, the location was inappropriate and my speech was too long. But with every mistake and failure came an opportunity for me to learn. My mentor comforted me with this quote, she said “you’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” And through this experience, I recognized the importance of being able to drill down to identify issues and problems, and solve them before anyone knew of their existence.”

“My first two clients were from referrals. These two mums wanted me to personally teach their children – not because I had the most experience as a teacher, but because they knew I would do whatever it took to defend their unbounded imagination, curiosity and creativity.”

Jamie had eight students for the first term and has had emails of gratitude, invitations to lunch, and requests to host birthday parties from the parents of those children. Sometimes the kids are enjoying themselves too much, and don’t want to come home.

“It’s been 10 months since the start of Kids at SWiTCH, and currently we run four ninety-minute weekend classes. It brings so much joy to me knowing that it has become a place which kids don’t think of it as a school; it’s now has place of innovation, creation and contribution, one which they yearn to visit every day.”

Putting Art And Heart Back Into Education:

“I see education as an art, not a science and it must come from the heart. It’s so important for teachers to realize that in years to come, their students may not remember much about what they’ve taught them, but they’ll always remember how they’ve made them feel.

If there’s one thing that I could do to change our education system I’d add more quality “listening time” into a teachers’ day. A time where teachers can listen to the students’ stories, finding out about their hopes and dreams, and becoming acquainted with their aspirations. Often, it is through listening that I was able to lead based upon what I’ve learned. Learning is reciprocal, and with this kind of experience, our kids do not need to care about trying to fit in. They are free agents in letting their creative and imagination run wild.

I believe the most important thing a teacher can do for a student, is not to teach them, but to inspire them.”

Swimming Against The Tide:

“One of my close friends once said this to me:

It’s not easy when you’re swimming against the tide. But it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. Don’t let the world tell you what to do. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do it. Once you’ve successfully fought against the tide, you’ll have a larger capacity to add value to people, lifting them up and helping them to become a part of something bigger than themselves.”

I’d like to thank Jaime for taking part in this interview and sharing the wonderful work she’s doing with ‘Kids at SWiTCH’.

Contact: info@kidsatswitch.com.au

Education Reform – GOOD

Education Reform – GOOD.

This is a fantastic website, never mind for education, but for anyone with an idealistic bent. But for our purposes I’m sharing the education reform section. It has nearly 150 articles of creative, solutiony goodness. While the ideas might be somewhat disparate, its still a goldmine for anyone who is passionate about this stuff.

Marketing itself as a social network for people who give a damn, I’d recommend rowing in and giving ‘good.is’ a go.