Use childish logic to solve adult problems.

My partner is a grade 2 public primary school teacher. He regularly comes home with fascinating stories of what kids have done and said. The unique ideas that they come up with and the logical answers that they have to problems. But then in contrast, we also discuss the set curriculum delivered in schools  and the way children are taught to solve problems and to address challenges with process and structure. I recently re-watched the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on how schools and organisations are killing creativity. He talks about how no where in the world is there a public education system that teaches more art or dance than maths and sciences.
school_kids
In my current role I am working with organisations to help them adapt to the changing marketplace around them. As the technology and environment around us changes we need to also shift not only the way we work but also our mindset. We are still using the same learned logic and approach to working and solving problems that we have been using for decades.
Ford assembly line
When I was a kid my parents use to often say I had a fascinating logic and view of the world. I use to stand in the middle of the room and spin around. I would then stop and ask, ‘Mum, do you get dizzy when I turn the house around’. From my perspective, as a 7 year old with endless possibilities and at the centre of the world, this was completely logical.

But holding onto this unstructured logical view of the world is difficult when we are educated to look at our surroundings through a lens compiled of rules, processes and formulas that give you the correct answer.

As I sit here writing this post, looking out the window of my flight from Melbourne to Sydney I am reminded of a time when I was scared to get in a plane. I had watched all these plane take off and fly into the distance. At the age of 4, the night before my first memorable plane trip, I was in tears. All I knew about planes was they fly through the sky and get smaller and smaller until they are no more.

I wasn’t sobbing because of a fear of flying or safety but because ‘I didn’t want to get small and disappear’.

This was the answer to my parents question when they couldn’t understand my anxiety for getting on the plane. When your view of the world is not founded on previous conceptions the possibilities are endless… but still logical.
plane in the sky
Imagine our approach to problem solving if we could hold onto this fresh, untarnished logic. We need to add fluidity to the learning model that we have previously experienced.  After primary school, senior school, two bachelor degrees and a Masters – I have a good 20 years of formal education. My logic is now largely confined by the structure and processes that have been ingrained in me over those years of schooling. I have to work really hard to not let this be a limitation. To continue to let my childish logic be accessible to help me solve adult problems.

Watch Sir Ken’s TED talk and when your next challenge appears try to throw away what you know and instead look at the world like your six year old self did. When was the last time you did that?

A man at a pink ribbon breakfast is a valuable commodity.

Yesterday morning I went to a pink ribbon breakfast. A great event for a great cause.

Many intelligent, inspiring and strong women in the room and on the panel. The discussion was around what we can do to improve the lives of women. The conversation flowed across broad aspects of various women’s lives. From in the Australian boardroom to in a primary school in Afghanistan. Having just handed in an essay on the gendered dimension of development for my Masters they were conversation points that really resonated with me. But for some reason I found myself looking around at the handful of men in the room.

As these amazing women talked about education and empowerment of females I wondered what the men where thinking.

As the conversation moved to the need for boys and men to grow up on a foundation of respect for women and an understanding for shared home responsibilities I was trying to picture how the men in the room felt listening to this. I watched a man fiddle with a pen, another check his phone and one massage a sore knee. I don’t know why but I felt uncomfortable for these husbands, sons and fathers.

I wholeheartedly agreed with all the points that the women said. But I really wanted to know what the men thought too. And I didn’t. Having an all women discussion about the plight of women felt one sided.

I found myself walking away wanting to hear the male opinion.

Knowledge and education does enable empowerment. But equality is not one sided. To attain equality and improve the lives of women we need to hear the voices of both genders. The men who show their support for attending a pink ribbon breakfast dedicated to improving the lives of women are the ones we  should also be hearing from. They have the potential to influence and encourage their male counterparts to promote a respectful, empowering and equitable society. These men are half the solution to improving the lives of women. They are valuable commodities.

If you are a man who went to a pink ribbon breakfast you are awesome and I would love to hear your thoughts and experience.

iSchoolyards: kids + tech = awesome

On Monday primary school kids from across Australia gathered at the State Library of Victoria.

The tweenhood from Northern Territory to Tasmania – “our future’s leaders” – came together in Melbourne for one hot topic: digital learning.

From all accounts you’d think they’d been invited to have playlunch with Justin Beiber, the excitement and enthusiasm was that palpable.

The event, ‘Listen2Learners‘ was the anti-thesis to the classic isolated, socially awkward child oft portrayed when we pair kids + technology.

Students showcased a range of awesome projects, from running their own radio station to preparing a cybersafety program for incoming primary students.

 

photo credit: Tania Sheko

 

The audience, a mix of business, government and community sector listened on as the kids demoed their creations.  Many had to submit applications for their ideas, and defend their concept against the ‘tough questions’; all processes that exist in my ‘grown-up’ world at work.   Learning to think critically through ideas to creation is a valuable lesson to be learning so early in the game.

 

Photo credit: Tania Sheko

 

Funnily enough, an old primary school bud Caz Pringle over at ThinkTank Media wrote a post this week which paints a drastically different image of kids increasing use of technology, the dark side…empty playground swings and a growing spawn of fat, geek kids.

 

A whole generation of Cartman's?

Could we be incubating a whole generation of Cartman's?

 

Considering Caz is a fellow Gen-Yer and grew up with the big bad Internets, it’s a surprising and provoking change to hear this side of the coin voiced from someone so well-versed in the WWW. (It’s inspired this post in response, I didn’t make it to the Listen2Learners but I was determined to provide some quality social education examples to alleviate the anxiety of picturing a generation of South Park’s Cartman’s IRL…)

Back to the happy, glass-half full juice.

I’d like to think the future is in good hands. Moreover, we better recognise the present is already in the hands of 7 year olds.

My favourite example was kids from Prospect Primary School who became teachers, and schooled their ol’ teach and 69 other teachers in how to make movies.

Using their experience in making films about animals for ‘zoo-tube’, these students set a challenge for adult learners – to learn movie making from scratch in order to make a one minute movie in one day on location at the Adelaide Zoo.*

Empowering and valuable learning for the kids right there….and, Zoo-tube!

These kids are so cool for school.

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