In late April, under the theme “Inspire your ideas” took place in Buenos Aires the first universitary TEDx event in Argentina,TEDxUTN. Probably most of you already know what are these globally spread talks, but if not, you can find more information on the official website of TEDand TEDx. The event consisted of 15 talks which discussed several issues, from education and entrepreneurship, to travelling and astrology.
This time I would be interested on focus on three talks related to education, mentioning the highlights of each and relating it to an activity that I am carrying out at present.
In one of the first talks, Agustín Campero listed Science, Technology, Education, Engineering, Knowledge and Innovation as words which must be related to the future.
Later it was the turn of Esteban Campero, who said that the university should transform because the speed of technological change is much bigger than the time to change the curricula. In this sense, he stressed the absence of subjects related to entrepreneurship in undergraduate engineering courses. In the final minutes, he emphasized the construction of distributed networks of collaboration and knowledge sharing among teachers and students.
After lunch break, Federico Pacheco explained the critical points of the current education system. In his opinion, the current system does not work because it is a system that uses ancient tools for training people for problems that are not yet known. Federico holds his position by saying that the curricula are obsolete, that we study for over 20 years and never learn enough, and that we live in an era where your diploma does not guarantee personal or professional success. He added that the teacher’s role should be one that add value, transmit experience, show the way forward, guide the thinking process and allow to leave deadlock situations. In the last minutes, Pacheco stated that “it is necessary to develop a pedagogy of the question”, and that the keys for educational change are horizontality, audiovisual tools, group interactivity, curiosity and creativity encouragement, appropriate use of technologies, independent learning, fun, and stimulating intelligence rather than memory.
Right now I am in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, attending a program related to alternative education. Alternative education (also known by other names such as non-traditional), is closely related to everything I wrote before. Basically, this type of education refers to teaching in small groups, where you can give more attention to children, where there is a constant exchange of information between teacher and student, in which the student not only learns but also the one who teaches him can understand his reality and accompany him in the learning path. To make it, participation, practical activities and creativity are encouraged.
I had the opportunity to spend two days in a school for children of primary and garden ages, most of them coming from poor families, where they practice this type of informal education. According to the founders, the school must become a workshop, where participation is the key, where students become critical and creative, and learn to ask questions. One of the most important things that distinguish this school is to see kids as kids, and not as kids who are going to be adults.
In this school, the kids have some activities that realize separately according to their level and age, and other activities that realize all together. Every day they have the opportunity to write a question about something that they are interested in knowing, and then one to three times a week, they all read them and try to find the answer. In this sense,** teachers try to guide them to the answer,** without saying it so the kids can find it. For example, the day I was there, the question was: “Why we can’t hold water with our hands and it slips through our fingers?”. After that, the teachers did different activities for the kids to see that it is impossible to hold water with the hands, and then they give them different objects that they could hold, until one of the children raise his hand and explained to the rest that then they can’t hold water because it is liquid.
There are many and diverse alternative education institutions around the world with their own methods and ways of teaching. I would like you to comment if you already knew about this type of education and what you think about it.
Do you think it should be considered as part of formal education or only for marginal sectors that can´t enter to the educational system? What tools could be applied to universities and schools in your countries? Do you think that encouraging participation and creativity would also encourage entrepreneurship?