For the last few weeks I’ve spent some time sharing and discussing some of my thoughts regarding education of the future. My ideas have sprouted from a root which aims to address and respond to climate change, which I consider to be the greatest challenge of our time. There are many other difficult and complex issues we face including social inequalities, a dysfunctional economic system, wars and other geopolitical issues, but all challenges we face, no matter how abstracted they may appear from each other are connected.
As a global community every single person is important and significant. Just by being alive you are one part of the whole, which is effected by your very existence. How you live is shaping the whole, whilst simultaneously the whole is working on you, shaping you as a person. Recognising our own significance and becoming aware that no matter what, we are making an impact, requires us to think about how we are living, because it matters.
I’ve attempted to create some context for this discussion over the last few weeks outlining the principles of peace education, acknowledging the local global movement, speculating over future roles of students and teachers, whilst also acknowledging the need to consider deep ecological thought when considering a response to the issues we face and see, but I’d like to make my words real, by explaining briefly how I am applying my understanding. The diagram below is a sketch of the education system I will go on to discuss.
First and foremost I recognise that any attempt to apply these principles within the present education system are pointless. As soon as one is in the government’s pocket one is expected to jump through their hoops as they mould you to their agenda. Initially, within Britain at least, the model of education shared will be required to function independently. It is unsatisfactory for a model of education to be dependent on funding entirely, as this can compromise the integrity and consistency of the organisation. Therefore, the model of education for the future is required to be a social enterprise, so that it can support itself and remain autonomous. Funding will always be welcome and sought, but will be supplementary rather than integral.
This presents challenges around access and opportunities, because as soon as a service is charged for i) it excludes certain people ii) it shapes attitudes and expectations iii) it limits experience to time bound parameters. An issue, because education for the future recognises and values the learning process as being continuous and transcends the boundaries of formal, non-formal and informal teaching and learning.
Design thinking as a tool can be used here as it enables one to ask ‘How might I..?’ questions, which empower a designer to consider the challenge faced and prototype various solutions, iterating continuously until a model is found that works. I am presently at this point in my journey. I’ve recently engaged with a small number of like minded souls, who share similar perspectives of life and are driven by similar things, so I’ve overcome the challenge for the time being, of finding good people. But intend to continue connecting with passionate individuals who want to make a difference. Get in touch if my ideas resonate with you.
Paramount to education is space. In London, finding affordable space is a challenge, but not impossible. There are groups of inspiring people finding ways to work the system in attempts to create community spaces which facilitate the creation of art and culture. One such space is ‘The Hive’ in Dalston. Defining themselves as an independent social space they have demonstrated temporary space can be acquired lawfully, in agreement with landlords of vacant, commercial properties by signing ‘meanwhile leases’.
As I see it there are two immediate challenges presented by space. First is that it’s temporary, which means, in a time span ranging anywhere from 6 months – 10 years, the building and the independent learning space will be required to be vacated. This means education of the future is to acquire a permanent premises in due course. The second challenge, more immediate, is filling the space and meeting costs. In the medium to long term the space would thrive undoubtedly due to there being such desperate need for community space in London, but its bridging the gap between now and then; which requires patience, resilience and an acknowledgment that we have to build awareness and support around what we’re doing. So, it starts, as with anything, with ourselves.
The final area of focus, the environment, is at this moment in time still a little vague and undefined. Broad aims are to inspire sustainable lifestyles and habits within the populace of London and to facilitate the development of deep ecological thinking with those engaged with the system we create. Clarity will come with time. What’s important is an awareness of the direction. Of course, the development of an online platform is also important and the seedlings of ideas are sprouting in my mind, but to discuss the purpose and role of the online platform at this point in time is premature.
Lastly I’ll give a nod towards education policy within Britain, as I understand government white papers are instrumental in shaping state school education. This means at some point in the future lobbying efforts will be made in an attempt to support the education system to evolve into what it needs to be – a structure which facilities the process of self-actualising students, transforming them into active global citizens, emerging from immaturity.
There’s a long, long way to go, and to actualise the vision will take the efforts of many committed souls, but it is with patience and urgency I act, because I’m painfully aware, every moment matters. I have the fire of purpose and ambition driving me through my days and with self-assurance I know I have all I need within myself to become who this world needs me to be.
I’ll finish by asking you a question though. Simply, how are you living? Because how we live matters as much as what we live for.