I recently visited the International School of Brussels (ISB) for an “alternative” school day based on action rather than theory. There were different sessions from mindfulness, to building light cubes, robotics and more. This blog is about the ones which got me thinking. Let me introduce you to the Superheroes!
Creativity at the heart of educating kids
A few weeks back, I did a post on creativity in schools and companies https://economy2dot0.com/2015/08/11/are-companies-killing-creativity/. A few weeks later, I was invited to ISB to see that some schools are actively working on ensuring that creativity is a core competence. It was their “in the zone” day. I was lucky to be there as there weren’t than many externs and I was able to sit in on whatever I choose to. It was cool to be back at school.
There were lots of different workshops but there were two in particular which stood out for me as being different. The first was a workshop on encouraging kids to express themselves. It was done through the media of theatre and acting. The kids were free to choose a particular issue which was important to them such as dealing with the refugee crisis, saving the environment or one of the many other pressing problems we collectively face. That in and of itself was encouraging to see as it connected the kids with problems their generation will have to address. They could then choose a Superhero that could help address the issue and act out a 2 min play to illustrate this.
There were two which I attended. In the first case the Superhero was “Greenpeace”. In the second, the Superhero was “Nelson Mandela”. I thought to myself, wow! Are these the role models which these guys look up to and if so, what does it say about our future?
At the end of the workshop, the thought occurred to me that the real Superhero’s are the kids themselves. Though I am an optimist, I am also a realist. The issues we face will probably continue to deepen and it will be the next generation, my kids and perhaps yours, which will have to continue to address them. Rather than thinking , shit, what a mess, I’m thinking, so be it, as these kids fill me with hope that they have understood the issues better than we have and are ready for action.
The power of silence
The second of the workshops I really enjoyed was “mindfulness”. For those who know me, I can be quite intense. I have difficulty finding the “off” button so mindfulness, yoga and other techniques can really help me create a bit of space to stop thinking and reflect. It is a skill I wish they had thought me at school. When I was 10 or 12, I probably would have laughed if it had been suggested as a class but I was never conscience growing up of the importance of occasionally being still, focusing on what is happening inside, rather than outside.
In today’s world, I suspect that this is even more rare and possibly more important. My kids, like many, have lots of new forms of stimulation which didn’t exist 20/30 years ago. We are not big fans of TV, iPads etc.. at home but can already see that if the kids do get exposed to them for even 15 mins or more, they seem to switch off. You could let off fireworks beside them and their eye’s would remain fixed on the screen. Wouldn’t it be cool if these kids spent 15/30 mins a day at school doing mindfulness, to encode the necessity of occasionally sitting still and being comfortable with only yourself for company? It was impressive to see 100 kids all lying down, in silence, in semi-darkness, as part of their school day. I’m interested to know if any of the readers have come across this in the schools where their kids are?
So schools are looking for creative ways to educate and there are more skills needed than math, grammar and repeating what we are told. Next is for companies to do the same. Let the employees lie down for 15 mins and acknowledge the power of silence!