Posts Tagged ‘education’

Vivienne Ming: How to Robot-Proof (Not Only Kids but also Ourselves)

Dr. Ming was named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine. She is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She co-founded Socos company, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes. She sits on the boards of StartOut, The Palm Center, Emozia, Engender, and Genderis Inc., and is a Chief Science Advisor to Cornerstone Capital, Platypus Institute, Shiftgig, and Bayes Impact. She is an author of the upcoming “How to Robot-Proof Your Kids” and “The Tax on Being Different”.

zdroj: Czech&Slovak Leaders

“The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It” was the opening quote of Singularity University, made by its co-founder Peter Diamandis and being such, summarizes the unique approach of this two-day conference that took place at the Prague Žofín Palace from March 5-6, 2018. Singularity University has been called an Ivy League university from the future and described as a conference like no other. Imagine an event that in two days covers highly scientific expert subjects from artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, the latest development in medicine and biotechnology, the future of finance and blockchain, alongside the wider societal concerns like future of work, future of education or exponential growth and abundance.

Perhaps there is no coincidence, only synchronicity, as to the venue. The Knights Hall at Žofín Palace in Prague used to be a very special place for the Czech elite in the middle of the 19th century and played a significant role during the Czech nationalist revival. Based on historic accounts, it was believed that had the heavy chandelier fallen from the ceiling, no one speaking Czech would be left, as most of the Czech educated largely male group taking part in the national revival movement, used to always be together.

At first, it seemed almost impossible to choose one conference speaker for our interview. On the other hand, it does not come as a surprise, that I chose Dr. Vivienne Ming who was giving a keynote speech on How to Robot-Proof Your Kids. Not only is the subject of education, learning and development based on talents and passion important for me professionally, but also personally. I am a mother of a ten-year old boy, who is extroverted, communicative and soft-skills advanced. By the way, we usually tend to associate these skills with girls in our society. I was glad to hear that my son is good at five general cognitive abilities such as social skills, self-regulated learning, emotional intelligence and creativity, since these skills were singled out by Dr. Ming as necessary for the future. Unfortunately, I was brought back to the present by my son’s private tutor, who called me right after Dr. Ming’s presentation to let me know that my son is unlikely to pass the exam for the eight-year high school. His five-year primary language school program partly co-financed by the EU is coming to an end. Given the competitiveness of the eight-year high school system in the Czech Republic, like many Czech parents, we have gone through the ordeal in investing large amounts of time, energy and money during the last eight months trying to improve his weak spots in mathematics, analytical thinking and information-based learning. The contrast between what is needed for the future and what is the status quo could not be any starker.

Dr. Ming is also a great example of a leader. Her life journey was not easy. She failed out of university and almost took her own life. She then discovered her life purpose: to make the lives of other people better. This discovery gave her the drive to complete a BA in neuroscience in only one year! She had undergone gender transition. Since then, she has had amazing success in her field, is a mother of two kids and specializes in the future of human potential. She has worked on applications to help patients with diabetes, bipolar disorders and learning.

Dr. Ming started her conference speech with a short statement,“The problem with the education system is that everyone has an opinion about it. Everyone is different, yet we develop systems meant for one type person”. I wondered whether she was aware of the fact that in the Czech Republic, the educational system has become prey for politicians and a panacea to many societal problems. The economy is currently suffering from the lack of manual workers? Let us introduce both manual skills classes and even agriculture lessons to primary school curriculum. The population is afraid of terrorism? Let us also include civic defense classes. Many students are choosing humanities instead of STEM studies? Let us introduce obligatory high-school graduation from mathematics. All of these implemented, without any deeper debate, without following latest expert debates and successful trends in education.

Dr. Ming then continued “Role modelling is absolutely essential for parenthood. Be the person you want your kids to be”. Wow, another challenging notion in a country, where the majority of parents still believe that it is up to school to provide both education and also upbringing and they are not ready to take part.

Dr. Ming, your talk was fascinating. Let us start with your conclusion. Find your talent and grow it. But how? On one hand, there are numerous possibilities, on the other hand, many young people do not know how to navigate themselves in today’s complex world.

Recently, I had the privilege to give a convocation at the school where I once failed and subsequently, after my amazing success, I gave my talk on three lessons I would do differently.

The first lesson states whatever you do right now, go all in. You are right about many young people receiving various contradictory advice from their surroundings but if they do not invest time and energy, if they do not try hard, how can they find out if they are going to love and succeed in an area? You are unlikely to be an expert at anything from the day one. I love what I do, but I had to struggle so many times to find the answer.

The second lesson says construct your purpose. There is not one thing you are meant to do in this world. You get to build your purpose yourself. You have to search for it, look for the clues.

The last lesson is about having the courage to “die” and start all over again. It takes about seven years to truly master something, therefore starting at the age of 11 and living up to 88 years, you have seven opportunities to become truly great at something. This notion is wonderful because it frees you from the pressure that one decision will influence the rest of your life. Your purpose will guide you, but on each journey, you will go deeper. Look at my life-story. As a man, my life was a massive failure. On my journey I became a scientist, an entrepreneur, and then a mum. There is no wrong choice if you are honest about it. Listen to what others say, but at the end it is your choice and again, go all in. Every time I have had an invention, it was thanks to these transition moments. From a neuroscientist into an educational company, to inventing treatments for diabetes and bipolar disease.

Your latest research is about maximizing human potential and you have become a strong advocate of soft-skills that you do not like to be called soft-skills, as they are measurable. The Czech educational system has witnessed the latest attempts to introduce farming lessons, manual workshops and civic defense classes to respond to pressure from the industry rather than to prepare kids for the future. What do you think about the future of education?

I am not criticizing specific policy choice but rather the broad policy choice about training people to do specific things. If you told me that the government is introducing programming, STEM only education and intellectual skills, I would be also worried. I can build an AI system that can do all of the above better. Therefore, the most disrupted careers will be in advising – whether financial, legal or medical. Economically speaking, earthly skills, such as agriculture will be more economically resilient than professional skills. Perhaps the labor cost is still cheap in the Czech Republic, but we should not forget that the labor cost runs downhill and ends in Rwanda. But governmental policy also affects the discussion in the US. As we will not allow Mexican immigrants to do low wage manual jobs, we might be constructing robots to do them, since no US worker is willing to pick food anymore.

What are the main points that governments are missing?

It is very simple policy trap in the form of solving the last problem. It is not about forward thinking – what the problem is going to look like in ten to twenty years. I am not a futurist but I knowthat a small number of people will be writing codes in twenty years. You need to look at the broader picture. You need to watch where the economy is moving. What is the US shifting towards, what is China shifting towards, what is happening in India and elsewhere?

Our 15 minutes is up. You have been quite disruptive also in regards to the future of universities. You research proved that university diplomas are not predictive as to the successful future. Charles University in Prague is celebrating 650 years of existence. What future do you see for classical universities?

University is a great place once you have all the meta learning skills. However, universities themselves have succumbed to the idea of building people for work-life rather than building better people to explore ideas. If I hire graduate students, I do not care whether they know neuroscience. I care about them being creative and adaptive. Universities will need to change themselves. But the bottom two-thirds will need to disappear as our AI has identified these as negative predictors. The top one-third will need to restructure. Let us discuss how to create interdisciplinary curricula instead of trapping people into degrees. How do we retrain people, how do we build resilience and growth mindset, and creative thinking? Let us invent something that will make the world better together. And I will not lead the project, being a scientific expert, but rather the students themselves will lead the experiments. How does that sound?

Immediately after the interview I downloaded the application Muse Dr. Ming developed. It is designed for parents to develop their children by spending quality time with them while enhancing children’s learning with fun daily activities. Based on your answers describing your child’s character and behavior, you start receiving tips for activities, so eventually your kid can become “a creative, adaptive problem solver”,as this is the only robot-proof category for the future. It proves that when the government is failing, businesses and start-ups can lead the way. And that was my positive take away from the two-day conference as a whole.

The interview was published in Czech & Slovak Leaders magazine.

Pherooz Karani: Children are universal

Born in India, Pherooz was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended a Montessori school – founded and owned by her mother – from two months to twelve years old. She has spent her entire career in Montessori education, eventually moving from teaching to administration. In addition to her Bachelor’s degree in Education, she holds Association Montessori Internationale diplomas for every age level, from Infant and Toddler (London), Primary (New York) to Elementary (Prague) and an American Montessori Society diploma in School Administration. Currently, she is completing a Master’s of Education program at Endicott College in Massachusetts with a specialization in Integrative Montessori Leadership.

Pherooz Karani, Head of School at International Montessori School of Prague

Pherooz, what brought you from sunny Florida to the country suffering from long, grey winters?

The answer to this question is two-fold. My partner is Czech, so I was actively looking to move to Europe and ideally, Prague. At the same time, I was in contact with Katka Bečková, the Executive Director of IMSP, who had offered me a teaching position a few years prior. This time she was looking for a new Head of School just as I finished a previous contract and things fell into place very quickly. Now I’ve been happily settled in Prague for more than six years, and married to my partner for over four.

Apart from winters, what was the most challenging to adapt to?

Well, although I had lived in Florida for the two years prior to coming to Prague, I spent most of my life in Boston, which gets significantly colder than Prague, so the winters were not an issue! Instead, I found it surprisingly dificult at first to navigate the cultural differences. Czech people tend to be much more reserved and private than the average American; they are much less likely to put on a cheerful or enthusiastic persona. However, I quickly learnt that Czechs are just as warm and welcoming as Americans, they just show it in different ways.

What was most surprising?

The religious underpinnings of Czech culture. As a Christian who nonetheless firmly believes in separation of Church and State, in America I was always very mindful of not mixing religion in my professional life (for example, avoiding religious carols in the Winter Concert). Here, instead, I encountered many people participating in, and enjoying, Christian customs and traditions without necessarily connecting them to the religion itself, such as the baby Jesus or St. Nicholas bringing presents to children.

Have you learned Czech?

No, much to my mother-in-law’s disappointment. Working in an international environment has made it more challenging to learn an already dificult language. I keep trying though and have gotten fairly decent at ordering a meal!

An international career offers many opportunities to travel. Which countries have you visited and what have you learned?

My career has taken me to the United Kingdom and across several states in the United States before Prague. The work is the same anywhere you go, it’s just communication with parents and team members that changes based on their cultural experiences and expectations. In my personal life, I’ve travelled across Europe, North America and South Asia, and enjoyed all of it; I’ve found common humanity through a wide variety of local cultures, environments and places, each with their unique beauty. Somehow many Montessorians I know are avid travelers, fulfilling Montessori’s concept of global citizenship, and that’s certainly how I feel and how I encourage students to see themselves.

Can we say that children are the same anywhere in the world or can you see differences between different places? What are the differences between Czech and American children?

Children are definitely universal. I believe their development and human tendencies are exactly the same the world over, in mansions and huts alike. Of course, the local culture plays a role but less than you might think. I think you can start seeing cultural differences in the Elementary age, when children begin mirroring social mores in their communities, but still their needs and tendencies are universal, for example – at this age – the need for acceptance and understanding your place in the world. Montessori definitely saw this and wrote about it at length. This is why her method is so successful around the entire world – because it’s not based on local cultural or historical tradition, but on studying the children themselves.

You studied theatre and you like to attend theatre performances in your free time. How do you find Prague’s theatre scene? What are your tips?

Naturally, I miss lot of Prague’s theatre life as I don’t speak Czech! The English scene is quite small, of course, but very enthusiastic, and growing rapidly, especially in the past years. Fringe Fest – a weeklong festival of English-language theatre, is one of my favourite times of the year and we always attend multiple performances on each of its days; it’s a great way to find new performers and make connections. The Cimrman English Theatre is doing fantastic work and I’ve loved being introduced to those iconic Czech pieces in my language! And finally, I saw several stand-out performances through the Prague Shakespeare Company and Divadlo Na Prádle. There’s also several smaller companies doing excellent work.

What are your next plans?

For now, I am committed to stay at IMSP at least through June 2019. I love Prague and I can imagine living here for many years and starting a family here. Career wise, after I complete my MEd, I’m looking forward to embarking on the Montessori teacher training for Secondary Schools. Once I complete that training, I will be Montessori certified from birth to age 18, a rare achievement in the Montessori world. I also enjoy consulting with other schools so look forward to continuing this important work as well.

What are your tips for expats in Prague?

Marry a Czech, it makes life so much easier! But on a serious note, get connected. There are so many wonderful events and groups, centered around interests, hobbies, skills, family, study, and much more. The expat community in Prague is very dynamic and I believe anyone can find company and camaraderie in it. A good way to start is to monitor the Prague Expat Facebook groups – Crowd Sauce is one I’ve found terribly helpful.

 

The interview was published in Czech & Slovak Leaders magazine.

Kateřina Bečková: Svým dětem jsem chtěla zajistit nejlepší možné vzdělání

Příběh International Montessori School of Prague v sobě spojuje několik zajímavých světových trendů. Prvním trendem je glokalizace – kombinace globalizace a lokalizace, kdy globální akreditace American Montessori Society vytváří rámec, ale zároveň je škola přizpůsobena českému prostředí a podmínkám. Kateřina Bečková, zakladatelka a výkonná ředitelka říká:  „Musíme a zároveň chceme splňovat nejen americké akreditační standardy, ale zároveň zohlednit české prostředí a jeho specifika.  IMSP navštěvují děti 27 národností, polovina dětí však pochází z České republiky. Naše osnovy se tak musely upravit nejen s ohledem například na evropský metrický systém, ale i způsob výuky matematiky, ku příkladu postupy násobení či dělení, které jsou u nás specifické.“

Druhým trendem, na který bych chtěla upozornit, je příklad Kateřiny jako podnikatelky, v angličtině s přiléhavým výrazem „self-made woman entrepreneur“.  Ženské podnikání má svá specifika.  Na rozdíl od mužů, kteří se soustřeďují na podnikání v oborech, které jsou vnímány jako ekonomicky výhodné, jako je stavebnictví, elektronika či IT, ženy se častěji soustředí na podnikání v sociálních službách či drobném prodeji zboží.  Ženský typ podnikání je často znevýhodněn v přístupu k financím nebo technologiím a zároveň velmi regulován složitými legislativními normami.

Třetím významným trendem je problematika leadershipu a vzdělávání.  Na začátku nového školního roku vydala Česká manažerská asociace zprávu o tom, že konkurenceschopnost Česka by se mohla zvýšit, pokud by mělo více sebevědomých lídrů.  Standardní český vzdělávací systém na práci s lídry nemyslí, navzdory výzkumům, které tvrdí, že klíčové vlastnosti budoucích vůdců lze rozvíjet především do 10. roku dítěte!

Kateřina Bečková založila v roce 2002 soukromou školu International Montessori School of Prague.  Původním impulsem byla snaha zajistit kvalitní vzdělávání vlastním třem dětem.  Během 15 let se IMPS se stala jednou z nejlepších škol v České republice, s kapacitou 110 žáků ve věku od 15 měsíců do 13 let.  Škola dnes zaměstnává 16 učitelů na plný úvazek a 4 učitele na částečný. Kromě předškolního a školního vzdělávání IMSP nabízí rovněž družinu a zájmové kroužky. Učitelský sbor má mimo jiné specializaci na výtvarné umění, španělštinu, drama, hudbu, tělesnou výchovu a knihovnictví.

Kateřina se do budování školy pustila s energií a vizí jí vlastní.  Když ji potkáte, stěží byste uvěřili, že tato založením nesmělá žena je ředitelkou významné vzdělávací instituce a jejím posláním jepřinášet ucelený a holistický přístup ke vzdělávání, který připraví děti na budoucnost.

Kateřina je jedním z největších českých expertů na vzdělávání a Montessori problematiku, v rámci provozu školy si doplnila potřebné vzdělání.  Původně vystudovala ekonomii, následně si dodělala magisterské vzdělávání v oboru speciální pedagogika. Absolvovala program Montessori leadership a dále se kontinuálně vzdělává v oblasti leadershipu v České republice i zahraničí.

 

Kateřino, IMSP na jaře 2017 oslavila 15 let existence.  Jaké je ohlédnutí zpět?

Určitě bilancuji.  Jak bylo zmíněno, původně mým hlavním hnacím motorem pro založení školy byly mé děti.  Ty však již školu absolvovaly a těší mne, že jsou nejen pro další studium, ale i život jako takový dobře připravené.  Práce s dětmi stále mě však stále baví a naplňuje, jsem pyšná na naši školu a na stabilní a profesionální tým, který se mi podařilo vybudovat.  Mám pocit, že jsme dosáhli optimální velikosti a fungování.  Nemám ambici rozšiřovat školu o další pobočky, ani navyšovat počet žáků ve třídách či zvyšovat počet tříd.  Mám pocit, že tou těžkou fází budování jsme si prošli a položili jsme pevné základy.  Nyní se chceme soustředit na další zvyšování kvality.  Věnujeme se neustálému dolaďování v oblastech komunikace, zaměření na vyšší efektivitu, dosahování udržitelných výsledků s radostí.  Mám pocit, že takováto práce už je pro mne vlastně odměnou.  Nejnověji se soustředíme na definování nového poslání, s ním spojených hodnot a jejich přenosu do praxe.

Na co jsi v souvislosti s IMSP nejpyšnější?

Na všechny dosažené akreditace, protože jsme jediná plně akreditovaná škola Americké Montessori společnosti v Evropě.  Poslední akreditace, jak ta americká, tak česká, dopadly v hodnocení tradiční školní škály opravdu na výbornou.  Skutečnost, že máme naplněnou kapacitu rovněž vypovídá o naší kvalitě a oblibě.  Toho bych nedosáhla sama, opírám se o stabilní, profesionální tým akreditovaných kolegyň a kolegů.  Jsem hrdá i na naše prostory, naše škola má velkou zahradu o rozloze větší než 4000 m2 u lesa. Máme voliéru s ptáky, na zahradě ovocné keře a stromy a zeleninovou zahrádku, péče o rostliny a zvířata je integrální součástí naší výuky.

V neposlední řadě se nám daří z řad rodičů, příznivců školy a odborníků budovat komunitu, která dále šíří Montessori principy vzdělávání do české společnosti.

O problematiku Montessori vzdělávání je v České republice trvale velký zájem.  Tato metoda je vhodná nejen pro děti, ale i pro seniory.  V červenci tohoto roku Praha hostila Mezinárodní Montessori kongres.  Pro ty, kteří se ho nezúčastnili, podotknu, že se jedná o prestižní akci, která se koná jednou za čtyři roky a pražský kongres navštívilo 2000 účastníků a více než 100 odborníků z celého světa. V čem je problematika Montessori specifická?

Je důležité si uvědomit, že Montessori přístup není jen o pomůckách, ale hlavně o přístupu.  Jejím úskalím může být fakt, že na Montessori metodu není jediný patent a tak se stává, že často školy nakoupí pomůcky a hned si dávají „Montessori metodu“ do názvu.  Montessori metoda je o filozofii, jejím přenesením do praxe, o schopnostech učitele zvládnout pracovat jak s celou třídou, tak s jednotlivci.  Pomůcky samotné jsou až druhotné.

Druhou výzvou je fakt, že mnoho Čechů patří k zastáncům tradiční výchovy a je pro ně těžké důvěřovat zcela novému přístupu založenému na svobodné volbě.  Panuje předsudek, že metoda Montessori znamená chaos, ale opak je pravdou.  Někdy mi připadá, že jsme na děti docela přísní.

IMSP je leader v oblasti nových trendů ve vzdělávání. Které trendy vnímáš jako zásadní?

Pro mě jsou zásadní tři trendy: poznání vlastního jedinečného talentu, schopnost spolupráce a láska ke vzdělávání.  Při interakci s dětmi dbáme na celostní rozvoj dítěte, pomáháme jim pochopit a zároveň vyjádřit jejich jedinečnost. Učíme děti nejen řešit problémy, ale i efektivně spolupracovat.  Dnešní doba často klade důraz na rozvoj a prosazení jednotlivce, ale bez interakce a efektivní spolupráce s ostatními jednotlivec sám ve společnosti nic nedokáže.  Montessori staví na principu „pomoz mi, abych to dokázal sám“ od útlého věku.  I ty nejmenší děti se podílí na úklidu, přípravě svačin, jsou daleko samostatnější v komunikaci, ale i v hygienických návycích a schopnosti se o sebe postarat než jejich vrstevníci.  Věnujeme se jednotlivým složkám inteligence – sociální inteligenci, emoční inteligenci, pohybové inteligenci a morální inteligenci.  Pracujeme s hodnotami jakými jsou ku příkladu respekt, ohleduplnost, zodpovědnost, laskavost a velmi dbáme na celkovou integritu. V neposlední řadě zapojujeme vhodně i technologie, které budou hrát při vzdělávání čím dál tím větší roli.

Jak vnímáš sebe sama jako leadera?

Ve škole pracujeme s profilovými testy Dynamika talentu, stavíme na přirozeném talentu jednotlivců, nikoliv na získaných dovednostech.  Dle tohoto přístupu jsem profil „Trader“, jehož leadership je založen právě na dlouhodobých vztazích, péči o ostatní, budování komunity a je mi vlastní přístup, kdy do jednotlivých činností jdu společně s týmem.  Lidé se na mne mohou spolehnout, mám vždy dveře otevřené, jak pro tým, tak pro rodiče.  A nyní se učím více delegovat, chci se více věnovat strategickým rozhodnutí, nemuset se už tolik věnovat denní operativě.  Jak jsem již říkala, těším se na sdílení všeho, co se nám podařilo vytvořit, se širší komunitou, kterou pomáháme budovat.

Co radíš rodičům školních dětí v souvislosti se začátkem nového školního roku?

Jsem zastáncem dobré rutiny, která může ušetřit čas a energii.  Udělejte si dost času na spánek, následně na ranní vypravení, snídani, cestu, ať neprožíváte každé ráno stres.  Důvěřujte škole a dětem, ale udělejte si na ně dost času.  Zejména v začátcích, ptejte se nejen dětí, ale i učitelů a vedení školy.  Jste našimi partnery, my jsme tu pro vás.

Jaké jsou Tvé další plány a vize?

Mým posláním je přinášet celostní přístup ke vzdělávání, kde každé dítě může vyjádřit svou jedinečnost.  Konkrétně se snažím přinést výše zmíněné Montessori metody vzdělávání do naší země tak, abychom skutečně mohli aktivovat jedinečnost každého z nás. Již jsem mluvila o komunitě rodičů a příznivců, kterou budujeme a připravujeme pro ni sérii vzdělávacích workshopů. Více se chceme soustředit na práci s nejmenšími dětmi, kde vidíme největší potenciál.  Rodičům chceme poskytnout detailní návod na to, jak vytvořit Montessori domácí prostředí.  A samozřejmě dále budeme zlepšovat a revidovat veškeré postupy v rámci celostního přístupu ke vzdělávání. Jedním z problémů českého vzdělávání je nejen jeho koncentrace na znalosti a vědomosti, ale i velká rigidnost.

 

Rozhovor vznikl pro magazín Czech & Slovak Leaders.

Arnie Bieber: To Succeed in the 21st Century We Need To Learn, Unlearn and Re-learn

Imagine the atmosphere of a school where there is a palpable sense of creative thinking, where one can see the arts, choirs, music and film production, and at the same time a clear focus on scientific experimentation. Imagine life as a student being able to experiment, design and then print out your blueprint on a 3D printer or a laser cutter as part of the school curriculum. Imagine that a student can take part in an international robotics competition hosted at his school by day and being on stage singing blues in a Cabaret performance involving students, staff, parents and friends of the school by night.

I was not touring a school in Finland or Singapore, the two countries currently recognized as having the world’s the best educational systems. These were, rather, my immediate impressions after visiting the International School of Prague, which overlooks the Prague Šárka valley nature reserve.

Linda Štucbartová, managing partner in ATAIRU and Head Interviewer for Czech & Slovak Leaders magazine with Arnie Bieber, Director of the International School of Prague, credit: www.czechleaders.com

Interviewing Dr. Arnie Bieber, ISP Director, turned from a traditional question and answer format into a lively discussion.

As Arnie truly lives and breathes the ISP mission “Inspiring Learners for Life”, I could sense his passion for an inspiring, engaging and empowering education organically engrained into every activity, including proud presentation of the school to visitors, talking about current and potential partnerships as well as embedding school activities within the local community. The last element is very important for ISP, as both private and international schools are often judged as being too distant and dislocated from the local environment.

Arnie, today’s world is changing rapidly. In fact, uncertainty is perhaps the only certain element. How do you prepare students for the future to succeed in professions and disciplines that might not even exist today? 

We truly regard ourselves as a future-focused school, and we aim to be preparing future citizens of the world. If you look at our mission, which you can see all around the school, you will notice three key elements: Inspire, Engage and Empower. Our core purpose is to “Inspire learners to lead healthy, fulfilling and purposeful lives” and we know that we are successful when our graduates live their lives in this manner.

The element of our mission linked to facing an uncertain future is addressed in the second part of the mission, “preparing students to adapt and contribute responsibly to our changing world”. However, the ability to change and to adapt is not enough without a moral compass. The world may have very many smart people but do they have integrity and act ethically? No learning institution should stress one while neglecting the other. The ISP experience revolves around “engaging our diverse community in authentic global education within a nurturing student-centred environment”. Diversity is very important. Our student body, comprised of 60 different nationalities, brings a multitude of different religions and cultures to our campus. To interact and learn with such diversity is very powerful because it allows for an appreciation of our differences. Future successful leaders need to understand and respect differences, such as those based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, belief or culture.

What would your argument be for the adults who went to traditional schools in the Czech Republic who cannot imagine a serious and enjoyable education at the same time?

The distinction between something being relevant and something being rigorous or challenging is a false one. We believe that the best path to learning which is not superficial and meaningful is often through relevance. We can all remember our high school algebra, trigonometry and advanced calculus, but did what we learn have relevance to our lives? How much do we even actually remember? It is not that these subjects are not important, but they should be taught so that students understand how it is personally relevant to them. Otherwise, you only play the game of school. The rules go like this – you memorize all you can, you pass a test and then you go on and often forget most of what you had to memorize. Such an approach does not support learning of relevant skills for the future.

So let us be more specific, what are the competencies that future citizens should have? 

They are addressed in our mission as well. They include the ability to: Think Critically and Creatively, Work Cooperatively and Independently and Listen and Communicate Effectively. Notice the element of effective listening, not only speaking, as is often stressed. When it comes to our central values, notice the verb to act. At ISP, the expectation is that we act with compassion, integrity, respect and intercultural understanding in school and throughout our lives. To sum up all that we have discussed so far, we care deeply about the foundational literacies such as reading, writing, arithmetic etc. However if this is primarily what a student has attained, we have failed as a school in this day and age. Students need so much more to succeed, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and well as collaborating well with others. Furthermore, as a school, staying current with how the world is changing is more important than ever. If you look at successful companies, they are changing all the time, they expect innovation but in the school environment, such an approach is not always considered important.

We discussed skills. However, the newest approach to adult learning is focused more on talents. So should we develop what we are not good at to become mediocre, or rather concentrate on what goes easy for us to become excellent?

I do not think the debate should be either talent or skills. Being an effective listener is not necessarily a talent. If you are not an effective listener, should you be one? And how can you become one? Perhaps you do not work well with other people. Well, you can work alone but you cannot be very successful unless you learn to work with others. But the answer to your question lies in personalized learning. Education should not be one size fits all. We are all unique human beings with unique talents. The best schools help students to follow both their talents and their passions. Sometimes your passions do not necessarily need to be your talents. The idea is for each learner to discover who they are and for to help them to discover that and develop further. That is why we talk about being purposeful, since you cannot be fulfilled in your life without being purposeful, and you cannot be purposeful unless you are self-aware of your abilities.

Following on the importance of science, there is currently a heated debate in the Czech Republic without giving priority to mathematics and technical subjects to the detriment of humanities, arts not being even mentioned a relevant part of the curriculum. What is your view?

Well, there has been a distinction made between ‘STEM’ and ‘STEAM’ subjects (‘STEAM’ stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) while ‘STEM’ is missing the arts. We are more inline with the ‘STEAM’ approach. As a school we of course offer the traditional sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology and environmental science as well as design thinking, and extensive technology such as programing, computer science and robotics. In fact we have just hosted an international robotics competition where students from around the world have competed in designing, creating, programming and running their own robots. These are the 21st century skills and I would argue that the arts play as an important role as the “hard sciences.” Whether or not you become an artist, the arts, visual arts, drama or music will afford you many skills and understandings that will serve you well in life. Acting, improvising, making music etc – these skills do not take away from the sciences, they enhance them. We want our students to be whole human beings, not partial human beings and so the education is based on an holistic approach.

How do the two major opposing trends – globalization and localization – translate into education?

There is a famous quote by Comenius, which is cherished and displayed at the entrance to ISP, which says: “We are all citizens of the world. To dislike a man because he was born in another country, because he speaks a different language or because he takes a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly. Let us have but one end in view, welfare of humanity.”

So we celebrate our diversity and take advantage of the fact that we are in the heart of Europe in the Czech Republic and in Prague, surrounded by a rich and vibrant culture. It is very important to be part of that culture. We study both the Velvet Revolution and the Holocaust, we take advantage of the beautiful surrounding countryside as an amazing resource for all subject areas. Children study and meet artists and experts in the city and much more. “The curator project” for the middle school is run in co-operation with the Lobkowicz family and students learn, discover and present their research of artefacts from the Lobkowicz Museum’s rich collections. As you can see, the local and global elements are intertwined. We are very much of the opinion that “local is global and global is local.” As for the Czech educational community, we are always looking for partnering opportunities with Czech educators and Czech schools. Given our strong technological background for example, we annually host a conference for Czech educators addressing the issue of how to best to utilise technology in teaching. Furthermore ISP students have many opportunities to interact with students from local schools as well as their peers from sister schools from around the world.

What are your final words for Czech and Slovak Leaders readers?

I would say that leaders should always value and yes, embrace diversity. The tapestry of cultures and backgrounds we have at ISP is undoubtedly a key strength of our school. I firmly believe that the case for diversity is also the case for business. Diversity allows for fresh and varied perspectives in any organization, and is certainly a crucial ingredient to preparing children for their futures in a diverse and globalized world.

 

Interview was written for Czech & Slovak Leaders magazine and with their courtesy published on our blog.

Future of Education

I am so excited to be part of Abundance 360 Summit in LA with Peter Diamandis. My purpose of coming is about exploring the future of education. I believe that the way we (not just our children) learn is going to fundamentally transform over the next decade.

The top 5 technologies that will reshape the future of education:

1. Virtual Reality which can make learning truly immersive

2. 3D printing will allow students to bring their ideas to life

3. Machine Learning will make learning adaptive and personalized

4. Artificial Intelligence or „An AI Teaching Companion will personalize the lesson for the specific student and his needs

5. Sensors & Networks are going to connect everyone, making access to rich video available at all times

5 guiding principles for future of education: 

Given that in a relative near-term future robotics and artificial intelligence will allow any of us, from age 8 to 108, to easily and quickly find answers, create products or accomplish tasks, all simply by expressing our desires. In this future, what attributes will be most critical for our children to learn to become successful in their adult life? What’s most important for educating our children today?

For me it’s about passion, curiosity, imagination, critical thinking and grit.

1. Passion: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life… A calling… something to jolt them out of bed every morning. The most valuable resource for humanity is the persistent and passionate human mind, so creating a future of passionate kids is so very important.

2. Curiosity: Curiosity is something innate in kids, yet something lost by most adults during the course of their life. Why? In a world of Google, robots and AI, raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable. In an age of machine learning, massive data and a trillion sensors, it will be the quality of your questions that will be most important.

3. Imagination: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it’s critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.

4. Critical Thinking: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, learning the skill of critical thinking helps find the signal in the noise. This principle is perhaps the most difficult to teach kids.

5. Grit/Persistence: Grit is defined as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.

EXAMPLES OF MODULES TO BE ADDED/INCLUDED IN THE FUTURE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS

Module 1: Storytelling/Communications

Module 2: Passions

Module 3: Curiosity & Experimentation

Module 4: Persistence/Grit

Module 5: Technology Exposure

Module 6: Empathy

Module 7: Ethics/Moral Dilemmas

Module 8: Creative Expression & Improvisation

Module 9: Coding

Module 10: Entrepreneurship & Sales

Module 11: Language

Mindsets for the 21st century:

One of the reasons I really like Peter is because he is also talking about the importance of mindsets, and not just the abundance and exponential mindset for entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Many “mindsets” are important to promote. Here are a couple to consider:

Nurturing Optimism & An Abundance Mindset:

We live in a competitive world, and kids experience a significant amount of pressure to perform. When they fall short, they feel deflated. We all fail at times — that’s part of life. If we want to raise “can-do” kids who can work through failure and come out stronger for it, it’s wise to nurture optimism. Optimistic kids are more willing to take healthy risks, are better problem-solvers and experience positive relationships. Finally, helping students understand (through data and graphs) that the world is in fact getting better will help them counter the continuous flow of negative news flowing through our news media.

When kids feel confident in their abilities and excited about the world, they are willing to work harder and be more creative.

Tolerance for Failure:

Tolerating failure is a difficult lesson to learn and a difficult lesson to teach. But it is critically important to succeeding in life. This should be reproduced in the classroom: kids should try to be critical of their best ideas (learn critical thinking), then they should be celebrated for ‘successfully failing’ — perhaps with cake or balloons.

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