In 2016, when I started my work as a teachers’ facilitator and trainer in Finland, I was trusted by this Finnish partner, a retired teacher, in approaching my training as I felt best. I was Romanian, coming to train European teachers in Finnish schools….you can see the puzzle. And I chose to start my first training/ intervention with…a story from India..(another puzzle) specifically Sugata Mitra’s vision for the “hole in the wall”, placing one computer in the middle of the learners’ community. Later on, I found out Finland has really tight connections with India, having many bilateral projects, special programs. I continue my own personal puzzle today after many years, with this interview happily meeting Sanjay Fernandes, and talking about SOLE ( Self Organised Learning Environments) started by Sugata Mitra. This interview is part of the Re-imagining education work I do with Ecoversities.
Sharing technology for new learning spaces & ways
In one of the researches conducted by Sugata Mitra’s projects, it has been shown why one laptop one kid is not needed, nor actually beneficial. When more kids share one device, they share knowledge, spread faster, and sophisticate their ideas ( WeQ). They learn attitudes, meaning what we do with what we learn ( create solutions to local problems, start social businesses, find solutions to one another challenges). They practice sharing a common space, goals, communicate all working and living skills we need in the multicultural world.
How do we decode self-directed learning, 3 steps:
- Allow & create a safe container in which students can share & decide on topics. This is really valuable work as you will get plenty of data: resonance of the value systems, cultural paradigms that are playing in your students’ life. I have observed the diversity of topics from culture to culture and from community to community, when students have the opportunity to propose topics. Then as facilitator, teacher this is incredible rich work, you get to be a silent observer of what themes play around, and choose to open up the perspectives and bring global and interculturality in the room or focus on place based learning ( and allow students voice and topic to create meaningful impact in the community). Either way you choose to go, this is how you can ensure sustainable learning, learning that is meaningful for students and teachers. By creating space where they can feel encouraged to think & bring topics they also practice self-leadership skills, taking initiative, you help create the image of the learner that has full responsibility on what she/he will learn. This is valuable experience for future jobs and life skills. As students “ negotiate” topics of learning, they have the occasion to experience cooperation and to feel how empowered, their learning is meaningful “for the community around”, they start building a sense of confidence & agency.
- Efficiency, students will have maximum productivity, spend their time efficiently, by staying on the topic and selecting what is relevant right now to the dialogue, practicing self-management skills. They also have and develop a wonderful skill of knowing what is the most appropriate length of the discussion and create “ a natural” closing, check-out from the dialogue. When they get the opportunity to have such dialogues in the learning process, experience the art of dialogue, empathy and compassion will be integrated with efficiency and focus, not choosing between. Learning how to efficiently communicate in multicultural teams.
- Age mixed group environment will help significantly with self-regulation. There are many different ways in which this can be offered. There is so much research and neuroscience studies to back it up: when we are in a mixed age environment we co-regulate easier, there is learning from both sides, the younger age will bring creativity, intuitiveness, older children will bring management skills, confidence, just as some examples. There is plenty of creative opportunity on how to actually offer this: from the all together in one open spaces (one prototyping school in Denmark comes to mind) to a one week learning in the city where 5th graders were having also with them students as “ young adults” to create confidence, ensure safety but not represent the “teacher” figure that would block the design learning, and exploring on their own, the city. You can create your own experience here, doesn’t have to follow one particular scenario, rather what is possible now for you and sophisticated that.
The guest for this article and part of the Re-imagining education with Ecoversities work, is Sanjay Fernandes, from SOLE Colombia Bogota
” Everyone can teach, and everyone can be learners…..that is why I like the internet, it disolves these barriers and inequalities like you are rich, I am poor you are that I am this..” ( Sanjay Fernandes)
While you follow the interview, take a notebook and a pen and reflect on your own, what resonance with you. At the end you can take 5 more minutes and see what is that you can take for your own learning and acting, here are some questions to assist you:
- If this last 1-2 years have been like crossing a border, what is it that I feel I should continue doing now, as part of this work of transformation?
- Who can sit beside me and continue to inspire the work that I do and who I am?
- Who can sit “in front” and benefit most from my work?
- How can I allow ” the future” to surprise me, how do I make space for surprising elements everyday in my work?
More on Sanjay Fernandes, some of his work with SOLE http://www.solecolombia.org/
- Free to learn, book by Peter Gray
- Finnish-Indian cooperation in education https://www.oph.fi/sites/default/files/documents/mika-tirronen_new-delhi.pdf
- Sugata Mitra vision for education with SOLE https://www.ted.com/participate/ted-prize/prize-winning-wishes/school-in-the-cloud