Reinventing education

As a futurist, I get asked a lot about the future. People I meet in almost any context ask me what their industry or role would look like in the far future. Some people seem very anxious and others very optimistic when I give them my views. I like to share imaginatively and philosophically when it comes to the future. That’s because I’m the most optimistic skeptic I know. I expect the worst but hope for the best 🙂

So, what would education look like in the future – many of you ask?

I subscribe very much to Ken Robinson’s view about what the future of education should become. If you read or viewed his TED talk, which incidentally is the no.1 most watched TED talk to date, you’ll quickly understand why. For those of you who are keen to get an idea of what he’s on about, here’s the RSA version. It’s more palatable and digestible (IMHO)…

But, Ken’s view is quite philosophical and idealistic. If you want to picture what a classroom of the future could look like, this video from Corning based on advances in technology and materials can give you a glimpse of what’s possible.

Cool, eh? In fact, most of the technology they are talking about are already in development and prototyping stages. That’s really exciting, isn’t it? For most of us, we are just about done going through what we can and cannot do with our brand new iPads and iPhones! And they’re about to up the ante again!

Have no fear though. Not all of the future involve sophisticated and complex technology. Sometimes, going back to basics is the way to go. Have you ever heard of the Green School? They’ve won the annual Greenest School on Earth award again last year – and they’re located practically in our backyard (in global terms). Watch this video of John Hardy (founder) talking about the school on TED.

Now that I’ve got you thinking, how’s about translating that ‘stimulation’ into ‘engagement’? Here are a few articles with links to loads of ideas and clever, snazzy apps to help you kickstart your journey to transforming education within your social context.

The Next Web : 10 Incredible iPad Apps for Education
IDEO’s Design Thinking for Educators’ Toolkit
5 Ways to Continue Growing as a Teacher
The 5 Best Tools for Creating Videos Without Installing Software
60 Educational Apps in 60 Minutes

If you are still hungry for more, here’s a link to a great article on the guy and platform who’s set his sights on reinventing education from his incubator in California.

I hope this post gives you a bit of encouragement that you’re in the middle of the next education revolution – whether you are aware of it or not. If you retrace the beginnings of the Society of Jesus when St Ignatius had a revelation and went forth to create the foundation for Catholic education more than 400 years ago, you’ll discover that we’ve been down this road before. So, what’s next?

I leave you with this wonderful thought from John Lennon, peace be with you.

PS : If you think this is all too overwhelming, and that you are just one person, here’s a quote I just heard from Cloud Atlas – awesome movie –

“You are but a drop in an ocean, yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” – David Mitchell.

Habit #7 : Getting & Staying Connected

The 7th Habit in our series of highly spiritual people is ‘Getting & Staying Connected’. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Matthew 5 : 13-6

Matthew 5:13-16   |   Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

It talks about how we as spiritual influencers should be living examples of Jesus’ spirituality wherever we may go. The internet, on-the-go mobile devices and social media today give us the ability (a curse if left unchecked) to stay connected anywhere anytime with people we love as well as people we look up to. It has become seamless to converse with many people across geographical divides (as well as cultural and socio-economic ones) to bond, debate or challenge.

So, how do we live as the salt and light of the earth?

This brings me back to a couple of stories I’ve read from the internet shared by people and I think these two especially captured the essence of what I’m trying to say here – Click here for one and two. Not exactly salt and light but hey, coffee is a good metaphor too!

There is a new ‘back-to-the-basics’ sense of spirituality and awareness that’s sweeping the world these days. People are becoming tired of the affluenza and ever-growing need to be more ‘successful’ and many have simply given up or are looking at ways to simplify their needs and in consequence, their lives.

Have you read about Jose Mujica, the world’s ‘poorest’ president, or about how newly elected Pope Francis is ‘living’ the new spirituality – simplicity?

Or this video about one of the world’s richest (and most wealth-magnetic) businessmen?

Interesting times, but one that empowers us so much that it is quite literally, the Age of Possibilities. This age, more than any other in our experience is one which has so much potential and possibility in it that you can almost become anyone and achieve anything you could dream of within one lifetime.

“With great power comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben, from Spider Man

And because ‘Knowledge is Power’ – that basically means all of us who have access to knowledge and who spread knowledge are now endowed with a lot more power than we can possibly imagine. We must steward that well.

You can begin with some of the best tools to get and stay connected :-

1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Google+
4. Path
5. Instagram

I hope that the last 7 blogs on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have helped you take your spiritual journeying to the next level. To close this entry, here’s a little YouTube video on something about a change of perspective – and how that can sometimes create a new reality, which is after all, how new habits are formed. Enjoy!

Habit #6 : Serving Others

Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time … We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.“- Mother Teresa

Highly spiritual people are always looking for opportunities to serve others. In order to serve, one needs to be attuned to the needs (not merely wants) of others around them. Compassion plays a huge role in this. It’s in our DNA to serve, one have but to look at quotes on service and serving to see that serving is part and parcel of leadership and influence.

Where do we start? How do we cultivate a habit of always wanting to serve? One attribute that helps is a feeling of gratitude. This sense of being gracious and blessed motivates one to seek out another and pass on the blessing. Highly spiritual people are usually more patient, compassionate and generous because they understand and appreciate the blessing that they can be in another’s life.

Don’t believe me, or agree? Let’s start with something basic. Try this website.

Did that help? No? The stats may be a bit outdated, but it’s hasn’t really changed that much because the gap between the rich and the poor has also become bigger.

How about this website? Helps put things into perspective once you start to focus on a scale you can wrap your mind around, doesn’t it?

Here are some links to websites and resources that puts some pretty big ideas, concepts and social justice issues on the map (literally)…

1. The World’s 5 Most Dangerous Countries for Women
2. Seeing the bigger issues in life
3
. Organized Crime : The World’s Largest Social Network
4. Where Children Sleep
5. Our World 2.0

And here are some links to websites and resources for you to start a movement or two…

1. http://www.3things.org.au
2. http://www.twibbon.com
3. http://www.avaaz.org
4. http://www.dosomething.org
5. http://www.squidoo.org

To end this blog, here’s a little video about Gratitude – wonderfully filmed, but more importantly, it’s the thought that counts! So, be gracious today and bless another!

Habit #5 : Valuing Your Relationships

One of the biggest insights one can have about spirituality is referenced through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you want a quick, easily digest-able and contemporary exploration of how the hierarchy works, here’s an interesting video illustration based on Disney’s movie, Up.

Relationships (or sense of belonging) is one of the most prevalent needs in the hierarchy – especially so in our 24 x 7 x 365 uber-connected world today. Teens fully live the ethos of hyper-social-connectedness. That’s one of the reasons why kids and teens these days as so into Facebook, social media and keeping in touch. Many fail to realize that the tech is not the motivator, merely the means – sense of belonging (and wanting to be a part of the crowd) are the key drivers.

In Jesus’ time, staying connected must have seem pretty archaic compared to today. The lyrics from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar always reminds me of how different things were then than today. Mass communication today is extremely pervasive and ‘devastatingly’ effective. That doesn’t mean it’s positive or always constructive though.

By the way, those of you who wish to go back to the days of pen-pals and snail-mail communications, well – there’s an app for that!

So, how do you value your relationships (spiritually) in this day and age of technological ‘boom’? Here are some apps to help you be the light and salt to the earth…

1. Amen – Spread the good things in life by commenting and advocating good stuff, and shooting down bad stuff
2. Twitter – Attract or join a tribe of like minded people via microblogging
3. Facebook – With FB, you can connect with family, friends, organise events and causes
4. Pinterest – Seek and share all the nice (and weird) things in life with people around the world
5. Google+ – Join and subscribe to special-interest communities and share your own personal learnings
6. Cards – Use this app to create a personal photo card on your iPad or iPhone and mail a physical card to anyone anywhere in the world!
7. Evernote Hello – This awesome app helps you to keep track of contacts and those special meeting moments in a timeline
8. Evernote Food – Another awesome app to keep track of those gastronomic adventures with friends and family
9. Occasions : Birthdays – A great app to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries (including those from FB calendars and contacts)
10. Zapd – Easily set up a website (looks professional and snazzy) on the go from your iPhone or iPad!

To end this blog entry, here’s a link to 99 stories that MMT (makes me think) – a collection of seminal life snippets from real people impacted by real experiences in their relationships that change the direction of their lives. Enjoy!