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Investing for the Future through Innovative Education

November 25, 2018

The course Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Education System reflects a new paradigm of thinking about teaching, learning, and educating people. At issue is the claim that learners of today cannot be taught in the same way their teachers were taught in the past. This is part of the reason why those who will live in the future cannot be taught in the same manner the current learners are being taught. It must be borne in mind that education is rather dynamic than static. It is always in a state of flux – ever-changing and continuously challenging status quo. Therefore, the impetus to redesign, remodel, rethink, reconstruct, and innovate the education system cannot be overemphasized especially if we want our learners to be relevant and meaningful not just today but more importantly in the years to come. 

The first three days of the program, which commenced on November 19, 2018, took us (25 participants from 17 countries) to a journey of what initially appeared to be the fear of the unknown – not knowing one another’s culture, language, tradition, and values. This fear was probably coupled with a lot of our anxieties, pre-conceived notions, biases, and assumptions which may have run counter against the goals set for the training course. However, these roadblocks were cleared right on the very first day when we were given a unique experience to move from the unknown to known. The introductory phase of the program, which already required a high level of participation, was a huge success especially as it was not done in a conventional way. The naming activity with body movement, the round table set-up, the box exercise, and the “human chain” task as a means to develop problem-solving skills and alternative thinking boosted our enthusiasm and excitement about our training. They were a good way to set the mood for transformative change through a training process. In fact, admiringly innovative lectures, activities, discussions, first professional trips, focus group discussions, and challenging tasks just even fueled our enthusiasm and excitement in moving forward to the journey. In truth, we already saw that innovation was indeed in action. Accordingly, this is a manifestation of how MASHAV “walks the talk.”


We were particularly struck on the first day when we were asked about a seemingly simple mathematical problem (1+1). Conventionally, many will say that the answer to the equation is two. Conversely and innovatively speaking, the answer is not two but three. One may readily claim that the three (3) as an answer is impossible and may start providing some mathematical axioms and logical reasons. However, in the context of the educational system and in fact through an equation, this appears to be quite probable, since it does not only entail a one-to-one correspondence between the learner and the teacher but also constitutes other variables in the equation such as the content, pedagogy, and outcomes which are actually interwoven. It connotes a synergy of the many facets of the 21st century learning paradigm. Indubitably, this issue of “one plus one” equals three in pedagogy was an eye-opener for it suggests an alternative way of thinking and a more radical perspective about our realities thereby opening doors for critical thinking.

 

The journey to the glorious past of Israel - its humble beginnings within its historical, socio-political, cultural, religious, and economic context – was noteworthy. This way of tracing the past, reliving the present, and anticipating the future could only renew our commitment as participants to dispel our own biases about the country as portrayed in international news media and other social media platforms. Due to an engaging, transparent, and open discussion we have become more understanding and respectful of the historical moments which have shaped its citizenry and have built its nationhood. It has changed our negative conceptions about the country and has reframed them into a deep respect of the country’s nation-building process. We found the history of Israel truly inspiring and moving which made us realize that love for one’s country is crucial to the progress of the nation.


What even accelerated our admiration was the introduction to Israel’s educational system. The vigorous discussion clearly highlights how the country values education in bringing about change in the lives of both people and society. The “no repeat policy” of the state is a testament of the country’s recognition that each learner is a potential genius who can make a difference in the society if provided with ample opportunities. The innovative approaches characterized by a high level of engagement among the learners, integration of ICT, utilization of alternative learning models and assessment, as observed during the professional visits, are but solid manifestations of making education practical, relevant, useful, and meaningful for the learners. In addition, the alternative assessment programs and support mechanism programs for capacity building of teachers and learners is a solution to the “equity puzzle” in education – not giving everyone the same resources but providing them with what they need.


Certainly, we will return home with lots of innovative ideas ranging from creativity in the class rooms, encouraging teachers, re-organizing work and school space, collaborating with stakeholders to introducing and hopefully implementing alternative learning models which will support the needed 21 st century skills among our students – collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. For some of us, the journey to reforming the educational system has not started yet. For others, a few steps forward have already been made. What is invaluable is our being a team in the process of mastering and maintaining educational change globally.

 


We should keep moving, thinking, collaborating, and staying innovating because clearly an investment in education is an investment for the future. As the famous Filipino national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, once said, “Without education, there is no light, without light there is no way.”


 
Article by: Hedwig (Cameroon), Klara (Ukraine), Mariska (Suriname), Richard (Philippines)