Education at The Road To Copenhagen University (#R2C)

This week I attended the Road To Copenhagen University ( R2C) meeting in Maarssen. Students from The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark were working out ideas and projects of parts of their manifesto, which they’ve created in December 2009, while driving electric scooters from the Netherlands to Denmark, to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. The manifesto is about the role that sustainable mobility can play in a more eco-friendly world (reference).

This meeting was a follow-up of the R2C-project. Five topics of the manifesto were selected: communication, education, Formula 1, automotive and green zones. The students signed up for a specific topic and got together in brainstorm sessions to come up with some concrete plans or ideas for the (near) future. I was invited as the ‘education expert’ (oh, well) to help out the students in the session about education.

At the bottom of  this post I’ve embedded a video-impression of the workshop (in English, some in Dutch).

I noticed something interesting during the brainstormsession of the education group. They were coming up with ideas of how to reach and inform the pupils in primary and secundary education. They didn’t question the education  system itself. And I somehow hoped they would, but I can’t actually blame them that they didn’t.

In their quest to realize a sustainable, eco-friendly world they were focussing their ideas to informing the pupils. Their goal was to create awareness and responsibility with the pupils. They came up with some great and creative ideas, like bringing in experts, organizing a special ‘awareness week’ in education, using social networking to connect with the pupils and simulation games. But the ideas were born out of their own experience of their education. And because it was a brainstorm session where anything goes, I thought: heck, let’s disrupt these young and creative brains.

So I asked them. How is this sustainable, eco-friendly world going to look like? There’s a whole lot of problems to deal with. Not only the environmental issues, but also interlinked dilemma’s like overpopulation, the effects of globalization and shortage of food. Who’s going to deal with these issues? Who’s going to invent the technology and social-economic concepts to deal with these issues? In the near future. In 2020. In 2050.  We don’t know what the futures going to look like exactly. We do know it changes rapidly. What’s the worth of information in a society were the information available is increasing, doubletime! What’s the worth of knowledge you learn in education today in five years? Especially knowledge concerning sustainability and climate change.

Education 3.0
I complimented the students on their ideas, but I asked them if the educational system of today was the right system if they wanted the change that would be the results of their plans to be lasting. I talked about Education 3.0 and knowmads. Two concepts I’ve learned about through the work of John Moravec and his weblog Education Futures. The concept of education 3.0 has since becoming part of my vision on education and learning. If you want to create awareness and responsibility with pupils and students, you’ve got to make them an active part of the solution. And if most of the solutions for a sustainable and eco-friendly world are probably not invented yet, we need people who are aware, feel the responsibility but also are able to be creative, innovative and work with people all over the world to come up with those solutions. Any time, any place. Knowmads. And to educate knowmads, you need an educational system that produces knowledge workers, with skills for designing the future. You need an educational system that can handle change.

And that’s an educational system that is different then the system the students experienced or are experiencing. Some of the students embraced this concept, others found it to big a change to handle. But they were all open minded, and that’s important. Let them start with creating awareness by pupils, and take if from there. I do hope they realize that the brainstorm session at the Road To Copenhagen was pretty much ‘education 3.0’ and that they were quite the knowmads themselves.


Road To Copenhagen University – Workshop education from Jeroen Bottema on Vimeo.

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