Education Redesigned for Forward-Thinking Families


Learning goals for students need adjustment as we're propelled into tomorrow

We have no idea what the future will look like.

If there’s anything that these last two years have taught us, it’s that nothing about our world is certain or predictable.

While this may be an anxiety-inducing prospect, it’s also a very exciting time to be living in. The world our children will experience in their futures is wildly different from anything we can comprehend.

So how can we be preparing our children for a future that we, potentially, know nothing about? What are the skills and attributes that will future-proof them?

How can we make sure that they become independent thinkers and strong decision-makers to face our ever-changing world?

At our most recent Clubhouse event, Galileo’s Learning Experience Architect, Yho Mendez, tackled this topic of decision making, and more specifically, how to foster this in children. Yho spoke to two of our Galileo facilitators, Marianne and Charlie on this topic.

Learning goals: Soft skills for the future

With our world already being so tech-focused today, we know that it’s likely we will stay on that trajectory. The world will rely more and more on the technologies that we are already seeing today.

Tech skills will be essential, but also ubiquitous.

With the rise in demand for tech skills, there will also be a rise in demand for another kind of skill: soft skills.

Soft skills are what make us uniquely human. These include things like creativity, teamwork, and critical thinking. These are the skills that no amount of machine intelligence or automation can replace.

These kinds of soft skills also apply to everyday life and are not just limited to learning or working. Soft skills speak to our ability to relate to others, communicate and form connections.

What this means is that we need to enable learning experiences and spaces that not only foster the development of hard skills but soft skills, too.

Decision-making is a vital soft skill that children develop throughout their life. It’s a skill that will also be relevant and crucial for the rest of their lives, across a variety of settings: in school, work, play, relationships, and more.

Outside of family life, a ‘school’ environment is often one of the first places that children are introduced to the concept of decision-making. However, learning institutions don’t always have the most collaborative approach.

In traditional education systems, children don’t often have a say in what happens at the school - so what is this really teaching them?

Exploring learning goals for students through decision-making

Marianne and Charlie are the founders of Wondering School, a project that works to “explore, learn with and share a range of democratic and humanizing education practices around the world.”

Marianne is an educator and biologist, who met filmmaker Charlie while doing her Masters in Curriculum Pedagogy and Assessment in the UK. Their joint passion for education led to the creation of Wondering School.

Through this project, they wanted to explore the idea of liberating education, at first in the context of Marianne’s home country, Brazil.  

This idea of liberating education involves three main topics:

  1. Education that listens to students and considers them as equals to adults in the decision-making process.
  2. The development of personal autonomy.
  3. Learning more about the problematization of the world through dialogue.  

As part of their Wondering School project, Marianne and Charlie do talks, engage communities, and create films. One of their biggest projects was a feature-length documentary called ‘School Circles’. The documentary focuses on six schools in the Netherlands that practice collective decision-making, more commonly known as sociocracy.

So what is sociocracy and how does it fit into schools?

Sociocracy is also known as ‘dynamic governance’. Rather than using majority voting, sociocracy makes use of discussion and consent through collective decision-making in order to reach a shared goal or objective.

In the context of a school, sociocracy forms part of the identity of a school. Charlie says:

“There are these two pillars in a democratic school. The governance, and the pedagogy. So, all of these schools had a pedagogy that could be classified as unschooling, or natural learning, or free schooling, or self-directed learning. And then the other main pillar is governance, so sociocracy fits into the collective governance side of things.”

Marianne explains more specifically how this works in a school decision-making process:

“So instead of asking for the majority of people to vote and then count the votes and see who won, sociocracy listens to everyone in a circle. Then we ask everyone who has an objection to that proposal, and then we as a group try to adapt and incorporate their objection into the proposal so everyone feels like it's good enough and safe enough to try, and that's the approach that we show in the ‘School Circles’ film.”

Learning skills through sociocracy

When in a system of sociocracy within a school, children are given a sense of autonomy. They are not being told what to do, but rather are part of the process of deciding how things will be done.

This means that they are given a sense of ownership over what they’re learning and how they’re learning. It gives children the opportunity to shape their own learning journey in a way that works for them as an individual, but also for their peers and their school or group as a whole.

Giving children the opportunity to guide their own learning process and participate in collective decision-making also helps them to develop confidence. What’s more, children feel respected and valued, which really boosts their self-confidence.

Charlie says that:

“The students also own the school, so they can change things and they have a voice there - so they have a sense of responsibility and ownership. I think that gives them a sense of confidence and pride, but also this definitely influences the fact that it's more peaceful and less violent compared to a lot of schools.”

This has a trickle-down effect on not only the way that the children see themselves but also how they treat other people. Charlie shares that at the schools where sociocracy is practiced, there is never any bullying or violence within the school.

Children learn to care about the opinions of their peers, and through this, really learn how to collaborate and get along with each other - even when there are differences or conflicts.

Through this process of collaboration, Mariane says that one of the most important skills that children learn is to listen to each other actively.

In conclusion, she shares:

“I think sociocracy helps with that because when you make decisions together. We listen to everyone and you have to be quiet while someone else is speaking and wait for your turn to speak. So we definitely develop the active listening ability and they help us to connect with one another and to develop empathy is well and we able to break our own dogmas, and stop thinking that we are the only ones who know what's right because, be able to understand the other person's point of view, and that helps us to collaborate and build more democratic community.”

Revolutionize your learning with Galileo

Are you wanting to transform your child into a passionate, self-directed, and curious life-long learner?

Galileo is a community of facilitators, learners, and parents who are working towards the goal of revolutionizing education. We help future-looking families to empower their children beyond the classroom.

At Galileo, we allow learners to curate their own learning journeys while supporting them every step of the way.

Join us! Or join in our next events.

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