Future of Education Now & Next Virtual Conference
September 22-24, 2021
A single CONVERSATION featuring different voices
Future of Education Now and Next: Voice, Equity, and New Realities to Amplify Impact
Hosted by Western Academy of Beijing & AAIE
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS
In order to access the resources and recording links to each day’s sessions, please use the unique login credentials that you received or that were shared with you by your school leader following your school’s registration for the FOENN21 Virtual Conference.
Dr. Marta Medved Krajnovic, WAB
Thank you to Our International School Community
The Future of Education Now and Next (FOENN21) steering committee is sending this message feeling deeply inspired and humbled by what happened during the three days last week of our global conversation.
Students, educators and keynoters from all over the world gathered around the themes of student voice, ethics and equity and new realities now and next. We watched in wonder as student voices were stronger and engaged than in any preceding conversation. Magic was created that we hope will carry forward.
We hope you will feel a bit of that magic from the conference reflections that we have gathered below. And if you were not able to attend, let us share some of the quotable quotes that sincerely demonstrate the level of community we built together.
We would also like to point out that the magic mentioned did not come from only the innovative ideas that we were imagining, but also from real life examples of changes that happened in our educational contexts. Changes that teachers and school leadership co-constructed with students. Changes that were entirely led by students and only supported by adults by giving the students a safe space to think, share and act.
We have witnessed that the schools that have stepped boldly into the new reality, are not waiting for the normal to come back and are actively shaping their future together with their students. These schools are reaching new levels of harmony and happiness. Why not join them?
WAB and AAIE will continue joining forces in bringing FOENN21 conversations and actions to you, but we can't do it without you. Please let us know if you would like to share your story in one of our future conversations, and do not forget to bring your students along! Now please take a few minutes to catch up on the many examples of the diverse voices that came together last week.
Dr. Marta Medved Krajnovic, Head of School
Western Academy of Beijing
PS: Take a close look at the sample of questions students asked our keynoters– goodness, they truly placed our speakers on the "hot-seat."
Obviously the environment should not be passive trying to force feed you with learning. The environment should activate you to develop these skills.
The physical environment does have an impact on us … on how you feel, how you move, how you interact with others, and how you collaborate. If you don’t move your body, eventually your brain activity will also go down. If you move in different ways, suddenly you can imagine things that you could not imagine before. We need to work with the physical environment so you can maximize your learning and development potential.
Play and learning are completely related. The core of play in children and in adults is also the core of how we learn. Play and learning come from the same place of natural curiosity and wonder. From the sense of wonder, you start to explore and imagine possibilities. Playing made it possible for us to build the rocket that flew us to the Moon.
We have a very uncertain future and we are observing an exponential change in our society. While we can’t prepare our children for something specific, what we can give them and they can take with them are abilities and skills. They are incorporated and become part of you and they are learned in an active way. A skill or an ability is something you can take with you, with which you can learn whatever you need to learn or embrace whatever challenge might come your way and is an active skill. Obviously the environment should not be passive trying to force feed you with learning, the environment should activate you to develop these skills.
STUDENT VOICES– Architect Rosan Bosch on the "Hot-Seat"
What inspired you to focus on environments for learning?
RB - Many things inspire me. One of the big things that inspires me a lot is looking at nature from a design perspective. When we move in nature in the landscape, we are much more intuitive about what we can do and we act with our physical body in a very different way.
How is local culture and architecture incorporated into the design of learning spaces in other parts of the world?
RB - Not all schools relate to their culture. Some maintain a more global culture as international schools and focus less on the local culture. We look at local culture, talk to the students and the school and ask to be taken around and shown. We also ask them what they have noticed about the learning environment and what they like and dislike. And then we listen and we learn.
In your opinion, what is one thing to better the environment tomorrow?
RB - First thing I would do is start class and ask the students where would you like to be right now? Open the doors and let the children be where they want to be. Use post-its for teachers and students. Students place post-its identifying where they like to be and why. Teachers place their post-its where they think students want to be and why. Then you look at the results. It’s a real eye opener because the way students experience the spaces is very different from the way teachers perceive the students’ experiences.
KEYNOTER DR. ROBERT SAPOLSKY
..my guess is none of you have been stressed in a way that would make sense to any other mammal out there. Insofar as none of you have ever been chased by a saber toothed tiger and had to run for your life. No matter how impossible the parents are, they are unlikely to leave your bones scattered over an acre of the savannah and in that regard, you’re not like normal animals and none of us are.
It’s a very different world that we’ve joined into. If you want to make sense of who is going to live through this ‘dry season’, when we get to stress and things that stress us, we enter a totally bizarre domain that nobody had to think about before. Totally bizarre medical questions like, what is your psychological makeup or what’s your social status or how do people with your social status get treated in your society?
Whether you are a lion or a zebra or an administrator dealing with an impossible parent, if you are a normal everyday mammal being stressed, if you’re going to survive, you’ve got to do the same thing with your body in all of these cases. Above all else, you need energy right now in your circulation to power whatever muscles are going to save your life as you sprint across the savannah. Next you must deliver that energy to those muscles as quickly as possible. You increase your heart rate, your breathing, your blood pressure, your cardiovascular tone to get that energy to your muscles.
If you are going to be stressed like a normal mammal does, you had better turn on the stress response or else you’ve got about a 30 second life expectancy. For most of us, the issue isn’t that we have trouble turning on the stress response. Instead, the problem is we have trouble turning it off. We turn it on and we turn it on too often for purely psychological reasons. And when it’s all over with, it takes us hours instead of minutes to go back to baseline. What we all suffer from is an excess of the stress response.
STUDENT VOICES– Dr. Robert Sapolsky on the "Hot-Seat"
You mention in your book that 15 milliseconds exposure to the face of another race or someone who is considered part of our out group is enough to activate the amygdala. Has your recent research provided any insight as to whether growing up in a diverse community such as an international school can decrease this hardwired response?
RS - In these studies, the average person in thousandths of a second, your amygdala activates before you’re even conscious of what you’re looking at. 75% of people respond this way. It’s not inevitable, it’s not universal, it's not automatic for everyone so who are those in the 25% who don’t show that? One group are those who grew up in diverse communities of lots of different ‘thems’ who wind up feeling like ‘us-s’, people who have a history of a close, intimate relationship with a ‘them’, and people who have been prompted not over their entire lifetime, but prompted in the last two minutes to think about that face as belonging to an individual rather than someone who belongs to a category and you erase that response.
How can we deal with a time where stress is commonplace what with the pandemic and major social issues happening, realize and control our stress responses in an effective way?
RS - One of the most important routes of social affiliation and connectedness is knowing that somebody needs you, knowing that you are having efficacy, and you are having an effect on somebody else’s well being. This is an effective way to control and reduce the stress response.
What is your advice for people who are experiencing climate anxiety?
RS- Stop global warming, carry Greta Thunberg on a big chair all around the planet and tell the UN to listen to her. You guys are in an amazingly stressful situation and it has created a sense of helplessness. And all you can do is focus on the fact that historically, every now and then, change comes from some wonderfully insightful leader with a top down solution, but what really happens is that change happens from the bottom up. Collective action and belief. You’ve got the energy to be fundamentally angry about how nothing is being done, you guys are the ones who have the potential for the collective action that is actually going to make a difference.
KEYNOTER DR. SUGATA MITRA
In the old system that the virus stopped, learning is made to happen while students sat quietly, paid attention, listened and answered questions from the teacher. Self organized learning environment (SOLE), it was the opposite. Nobody was making anything happen. You just plant a question and you let it happen if your question is good. If your question is boring, it doesn’t happen.
What should we teach people? What should you know? Everything that humanity has learned over the last thousands and thousands of years. We must know all of that. But you can know that just in time you can just pull out your phone and find out. If you know how to find out quickly and accurately, what's left? What’s left is the most interesting thing of all … the big things that we do not know. What has more attraction, something to which someone has found an answer a thousand years ago or something to which no one knows the answer yet? How about a curriculum not of the stuff that we know, but of the things that we don’t know yet.
If there’s a question to which no one knows the answer, the internet doesn’t know either because the internet is made up of us. So you can actually get the internet to sit and think if you ask it a question to which no one knows the answer. But how can the teacher help you? The teacher can say, ‘you go there, I will come with you’.
STUDENT VOICES– Dr. Sugata Mitra on the "Hot-Seat"
Thousands of others worldwide desire to become teachers as a profession. Don’t you think the employment and passion of thousands of others will be compromised if unsupervised learning is implemented worldwide. What would be your thoughts on this?
SM - The important thing to understand is I’m saying that the teachers have to be there but the teacher’s job becomes different. The teacher says to the student, ‘you find out and you tell me’ as opposed to, ‘you don’t know, I will tell you.’
What made you come up with the idea for the Hole in the Wall experiment and how do you plan to keep moving forward with that idea?
SM-Back then, there were children who didn’t have computers because their parents didn’t have any money. And then there were children whose parents had lots of money and they had computers. The children who had computers were very good with it. I thought this was not fair because what about the child who did not have an Ipad? What could you do as you can’t go around buying a computer for every child who did not have one. But I could buy one and stick it on a wall for as many people as possible to use it. Rather than not having a computer at all, it was better that they had one on the wall of their village or their slum. Luck was with me because if you stick it on the wall, they learn more than if you gave one computer to one child to take home. Children learn together.
How do you ensure that students aren’t simply Googling answers but really absorbing and comprehending all of the searches that they find?
SM-This question troubles me a great deal. They’re not learning, they are Googling. Is there a big difference and what would that be? People might say there is something called deep learning where you really understand. And then there’s Googling where you type in a question and then you read out the answer. That way only happens if you’re alone with Google. If there’s a group of you together, and you’re given a question to which there is no obvious answer, then you start talking to your friends. You don’t just Google, you look at websites and one of your friends says, ‘I don’t like that website, I don’t think it’s saying the right thing, let’s try something else’. So you do learn. They’re just Googling is like saying they’re just reading a book. So what? That’s how you learn anyway.
The FOENN21 STEERING COMMITTEE
Marta Medved Krajnovic
(...and our next step is to ensure students are part of the future steering committee!)