Sustainable development is the hype thing on the agenda – nobody buys the concept of unsustainable development. It seems there is an increased awareness and understanding even for certain common environment issues. We must become more sustainable and think a little differently – but what does this mean I hope you wonder. Let me try to give you an example but first something really fundamental – that old native-american proverb:
“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
Sustainability. For real.
How did we end up in a situation where some parts of the growth ends up in extreme excess in some places and nothing in others? How can some people continue to acquire more and more wealth (houses, castles, boats, helicopter fleets) – it just keep coming to them and no-one reflects about it? How can some necessary business impoverish the soil and poison the planet deliberately in order to maintain growth – because they can? How can people with strong charisma deliberately mislead people to believe that they should stop medicatefor HIV – are we trained idiots? How can anyone accept a whole life where the sole purpose of life is to serve anyone/anything else whose ideals and principles that he/she do not share – they do not dare to speak up? How can we let young people leave school as “failed” and not as future creating individuals?
Brickwalls are as stable as they should be
A few years ago, I concluded that it was downright useless to try to change the current structures and mindset. We are all trained to act like brick walls and when we encounter other brick walls there will be no “action” at all. And when you managed to get out of the box and find the dream and the idea the brick walls are there – always. But it is good – it is made to stop everyone else as Randy Pauch said in Achieve you childhood dreams – . Sure you can work within the system, adjust, become a millionaire and then in a weak moment of reflection complain about the poor children in Africa. But is it sustainable? No. You need to disguise yourself, cheat, hide, sneak and be smooth if you want to succeed with the change in learning or in society in general.
Why school is in focus
Retold from Adam Jones through Björn Sanderberg (many thanks):
“An anthropologist proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the children that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that when one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said, ‘UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?’ (‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: ‘I am because we are.)”
Therefore, the school and education systems need to be built up by new principles of sustainability, since school will be a catalyst for learning and global prosperity. Well, globally .. And never hesitate about that, if you do then you should think about what idiocy training you’ve been subjected to. Students should not be trained to outcompete others and find it natural that some get a lot and some get nothing. To help each other and work together is natural in the “tribe” – and aren’t be all building our tribes still..?
The Sensemaking principle – rules are not always rules
Creating a sort of framework for education is no single solution either, but if we stay within the principles maybe we can at least start thinking about the idea of change in human interaction globally:
- Every student, faculty and staff have the right to feel joy every day in school.
- Every student and teacher has the right to a computer and the Internet all the time whenever they want.
- Any task that is done in school shall be based on the student’s own documented dreams for the future.
- Each student should at least 2 days a week to take responsibility for personal development time (together with others).
- Each principle must be continuously re-evaluated, improved and adapted to the present and contemporary assessment of future trends.
A so-called good failure. No stone tablets exactly. Next version I have thought of a little more. Based on the above and some things that I and probably others do not want to see in the school of the future or the future of business are the below four, and only four, below principles, written with digital pencil ink:
- The Voluntary Principle: All goals for learning should be based on voluntary participation and self-interest – the desire to learn is always based on the individual will but supported best by open (and hence global) network.
- The Networking Principle: Learning will work to promote interaction and networking for mutual benefit – openness and interaction creates transparency between borders.
- The Concern Principle: Learning should be based upon care and support – social capital creates the conditions for a human society without borders. What you want others to do for you, do to others.
- Soundness or Sensemaking Principle: Each above principle, shall continuously be reviewed and adapted to the current situation and its projection towards the future.
And so no bricks falls on sore toes …
1. The voluntary principle – without own will no knowledge
It is both a prerequisite to learn anything at all, and a pure joy and something that creates joy in life – to be yourself and to be driven by what you are interested in. Self-Operation and internal engine is the key, I think even happiness – to be free of powerlessness and able to have an internal motivation creates even more desire. Ok, if the only interest is Minecraft, Facebook or playing soccer that might not be good to do 8 hours a day every day, but maybe 2-3 hours? Then it might be easier to do mandatory things and take responsibility for other people to find interest in the voluntary interest subject – then it’s probably also important to sneak in “elements” as math, language, physics, music, or whatever it may be but with the voluntary subject as theme. Assume hypothetically a soccer school, where the school’s only purpose would be to produce world-class soccerplayers – what would that school look like? Ok, that’s another blog to write..
2. The Networking principle – society must be built up organically not organisationally
There is so much in this principle, but many miss. Everything from the old days when the square or the Church stood for social capital for later TV and leisure associations. And now, the networking ability that can both add to the anonymity and it can also help us in all the things we are doing at any time of the day. If we only could network more and communicate more – many-to-many communication and machine-to-human communication.
It is in the relationships values are generated.
This to ask for help is difficult for many – it is cheating, you should manage everything yourself. Does this make sense in a community? In a family? If we are still headed in the same direction (we are – the planet does not move forward in different directions), shouldn’t we all acquire millions of friends who can help us? And when we do something sensible should we not create benefits to more than two-three people..Or thirty, or millions?
Ok, it IS hard to publish pictures of pizzas on Facebook while you know that hungry people in Africa see the status update.
But this is the reality. I’m tired of turning a blind eye half of the days. I can’t help anyone, but I can support organisations and initiatives. Being online means chances for learning and “cheating” all the time. Should we necessarily measure and test status on students we need do so from the students perspectives, NOT from centrally set goals and templates. When to answer questions and to do assignments ALL students and ALL teachers in the whole world should be available! Not to mention all the books, films, lectures .. And a teacher can actually be filmed and then the film can be spread to more than one classroom … Staggering thought.
Students should also be filming and be filmed and disseminate insights. As society should – massive storytelling to increase cooperation areas. There are also gamefication aspects – to create missions/tasks and solve them. Take Fredsuppdraget (Peace Mission, thanks Mike Gunnarsson) as an example… and its extension (I have written about that in another blogpost – “The right vehicle for world peace”). You can do a lot of this, learning while getting physical activity and interaction with society. From your own selfish perspective, you can actually use others and even help others if we only could let go…
3. The concern principle – are there any aliens here?
No there are no aliens here, but we treat others as if they were until you’ve had a meal with them or so – after that the green light shines. And oh, now we have a problem..?
“-Should we be friends with everyone?” “-Tell that to the local drug dealer or the drug lords ..” “-Tell that to all rape victims ..” etc..
No, there is no problem really, these principles we’re talking about are not about specific cases. And no, an IT system will not create world peace.. nor will this blog. I’m just a butterfly who takes some extra turns now and then.
This blog is about a mental shift that we can pass on to our children.
What children see – children do.
We adults are already screwed up and you can’t teach old dogs or get passed a brick wall and all that… that ok if you think like that but do not stop others to do good, please. Do not administrate creativity and entrepreneurship to death – set it free. The real consideration is to care more (Principle 3) – if we wouldn’t have compulsory schooling (Principle 1) then we need to be better interacted (Principle 2) so that no one falls “between the chairs”. Science and facts about the world is still what needs to be the foundation – but you all have the right to believe in the snowman, trolls or various pretend-Jesus but through networking and openness, knowledge, reason and consideration most unscientific parts can be accepted but more debated perhaps.. Consideration and compassion between all learners can maybe make many problems magically disappear ..?
4. The Soundness or Sensemaking principle – a framework for learning
Every principle and evaluation of values should be reassessed every Monday (thanks Troed Troedson for that insight), but for that matter, “short-termism” should not stop us from setting long-term visions and goals. What does the school of the future look like, ideally? How do we get there? Can we identify a set of principles that will automatically lead us towards the goals and at the same time give so much freedom for every school hero to develop and find new approaches, methods and techniques, it is a more efficient plan than the centralized state economic plan – that frankly in Sweden is a mixture of beautiful thoughts and threats of police come knocking on your door.
These principles must be alive. In one country Principle 3 might be about that you shall not kill each other, in another country about visiting a home of a classmate.
The more I think about it the more things get clearer to me. I should write a book. How can we explain complex matters as the joy of team learning, community & cooperation benefits. How can we reduce the fragmentation of society and turn this love-less machine into a beautiful “living” global organism?
Please come with suggestions for improvements on the principles – this is just a start!