Education

Is Experience the New Graduate Degree? (Huffington Post)

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post

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With news that the graduate Stafford loan rates will increase next year, and New York Times headlines like “It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk,” you don’t need to look far to see that the higher education experience is broken. While MOOCs and other initiatives attempt to mend a failing system, some organizations like Watson UniversityEnstitute, and Experience Institute are hoping to create an entirely new educational system through experiential learning and personal development.

recent Pew study backs up the notion that more experience in education is desired. According to an Atlantic article about the report:

It found that, yes, a third of college graduates who majored in social science, liberal arts or education regretted their decision… But overall, when asked what they wish they’d done differently in college, ‘choosing a different major’ wasn’t the top answer. The most popular answer, given by half of all respondents, was “gaining more work experience.’ Choosing a different major was the fourth most popular response, after ‘studying harder’ and ‘looking for work sooner.’

Not everyone learns best in a traditional classroom. Experience Institute (Ei), which welcomed its first cohort last year, encourages its students to establish their own classrooms by undertaking three apprenticeships or independent projects while also completing five modules of curriculum designed specifically for the program. Ei’s curriculum is taught in the form of meet ups that take place in Chicago in-between apprenticeships and cover community building, self-awareness, storytelling, operations, and design thinking. The yearlong program offers the graduate school experience at a much cheaper than the norm price tag of $13,000. (more…)

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Why Every Social Entrepreneur Needs to Read This Book (Huffington Post)

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Originally posted on HuffPost Impact.

Paulo Freire, author of the seminal 1970 book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, saw the world not as a given reality, but as “a problem to be worked on and solved.” That mindset is a quality we attribute to the greatest social entrepreneurs. Yet, when so many well-intentioned social ventures globally seem to leave individuals dependent on aid instead of empowering them, Freire’s book should be required reading for every social entrepreneur.

While many in the social enterprise space are now excited by what we call “empowerment non-profits,” “human-centered design,” and “co-creation,” Freire and others working in activism and participatory development have been advocating for working with, and not for, the oppressed for more than 50 years. Furthermore, our culture of glorifying the social entrepreneur through awards, praise, and aspiration is contrary to the values of liberation. Based on the understanding of oppression and liberation from Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the role of the social entrepreneur would not be to act as liberator of the oppressed, but to work with the oppressed in the liberation of themselves and their oppressors. (more…)

Open Letter to High School Students

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My friend solicited open letters to high school students for a project for work. Here is what I wrote last Friday afternoon. I found that I was really writing it as reminders to myself based on things I’ve recently been thinking about and learning, so in multiple respects it was a great and fun exercise. 

Dear Reader,

We don’t know each other, but some of the best advice I’ve ever received has been from strangers. In fact, everything you’ll read here I’ve learned from others. There are things I think I know now that I wish I knew when I was in high school. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to really hear it, or I didn’t have the context for understanding its relevance. Here are some of the things I wish I started doing earlier, which are as much reminders to myself to do them now as they are advice to you.

Have empathy. You may have heard the phrase “walk in someone else’s shoes.” Empathy is listening to and learning about someone else, and acknowledging their experience as something real and valid even if it is different from your own or you don’t completely understand it. Empathy is not the same as sympathy—a proactive concern and desire to improve the situation of others. (This great animated video demonstrates the distinction between sympathy and empathy.) We should all strive to be more empathetic, and to be open–really open–to listening and learning from everyone around us.  (more…)

Thoughts from 1972 on Technology, Education, Change

Forward by Richard Shaull to Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1972:

“Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of most of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system. To the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new “culture of silence.”

The paradox is that the same technology that does this to us also creates a new sensitivity to what is happening. Especially among young people, the new media together with the erosion of old concepts of authority open the way to acute awareness of this new bondage. The young perceive that their right to say their own word has been stolen from them, and that few things are more important than the struggle to win it back. And they also realize that the educational system today—from kindergarten to university—is their enemy.

There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes “the practice of freedom,” the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. The development of an educational methodology that facilitates this process will inevitably lead to tension and conflict within our society. But it could also contribute to the formation of a new man and mark the beginning of a new era in Western history.”

What education for all looks like

I was blown away when I visited the 3.2.1 school in Mumbai last year.

I encourage you watch this video, but here’s an important quote about what makes the school so wonderful:

“How would we build a school if we were building it for our own children? And we realized that if we build it for their children, we build it very differently from how you build it for your own children.”

This seems basic, but it’s actually incredible. It’s also one of the main problems with a famous name in education in the developing world: Sugata Mitra.

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How the Internet can Impact Education in sub-Saharan Africa

English: Internet Penetration (% Population). ...

Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (As of Jan 2012) Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dalberg, the global strategic advisory firm focused on raising living standards in developing countries and addressing global challenges, has released the report Impact of the Internet in Africa.

The comprehensive, beautifully designed report and accompanying website highlights the Internet’s role in socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa in the agriculture, health, education, government, finance, small business, and energy sectors.

Given my work in education technology, I found the education section of particular interest, as many of the issues affecting Internet use in education in sub-Saharan Africa are also relevant in India and other developing countries. In addition, access to quality education is a major problem in this region, with UNICEF reporting that more than 100 million school-age children in developing countries do not have access to education, with nearly half of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. The Internet has a huge role to play in bridging the education gap.

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iPads for All?

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tablets have huge potential to revolutionize education in the classroom. In fact, the Ed-Tech in India report I co-authored looks in-depth at their potential to do just that for schools in the developing world. And they are getting smarter every day–India’s $40 tablet, the cheapest in the world, is about to become a “phablet” with a phone feature.

But just because we think tablets are awesome, it doesn’t mean we should send them into classrooms with no thought or planning. Over at VentureBeat, there’s a great guest post by the CEO of NOMAD, that explains a few reasons why educators should think twice before implementing tablets.

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