What I learned at Learning Without Frontiers Festival (#LWF12, London)

Last week I participated in the  Learning without Frontiers festival and conference in London. Now in its 9th edition the annual event aims to bring together international thought leaders, policy-makers and innovators from different sectors to discuss how society is changing and how approaches and platforms for learning reflect, embrace and respond to those changes. We are just about to start reaching out to partners interested in exploring what goes on at the edges of Learning  with us, and so the invitation to present couldn’t have come at a better time- a big thanks to the organisers. At the #LWF12 presentations I attended, much emphasis was placed on initiatives, approaches and technologies that contribute towards fostering creativity and innovativeness in children or adolescents. The  presenters and organizations present offered a variety of views on how this is best achieved. Jacob Kragh of Lego Education talked about  learning as being social in nature, highlighting the importance of learners reflecting on the learning they are doing; that thinking about meta-cognition and the “thrill, skill and will” of learning is not only relevant for a privileged few.

"what I've learned in my life I've learned through realizing my own projects, my own vision" Ray Kurzweil, \#Lwf12

Jakob also described their take on having students learn by addressing real challenges that they could see the results of their work and develop creative leadership in the process.  Geoff Mulgan, Ceo of Nesta, also emphasized the importance of re-integrating work and learning in efforts aimed at promoting change for creativity and innovativeness; “learning for real” is a strong motivator. Geoff also pointed out that while innovation starts with observation, education often seems to start with imposing an idea on students. Another important ingredient in innovation is assembly of hybrids and putting things together in new ways; remix culture is a vital part of ecosystems that encourage and support creativity and innovation.

 " It does not matter what we throw at education, unless we agree on what the point of education is. What is purpose of education in the world? It must be survival of our species.  To challenge superstructures... confronting some of the elephants dancing in the room when we talk about education". Graham Brown-Martin, Founder of Learning Without Frontiers.

Noam Chomsky was asked what he saw as being the point of education as well as whether education is a cost or investment. I agree with his reservations about the questions as they imply that 1) learning is synonymous with Education 2) that learning is something that adults or society at large gives to , or invests in, the young and not the other way around 3) that innovative contributions to society made by people who do pursue creative enquiry are recognised and acknowledged even if they fall outside the mainstream, are hard to define or propose solutions to challenges not yet recognised as being important.

"Value directive conceptual apparatus; know what you are looking for and cultivate the capacity to seek the right things." Noam Chomsky, \#Lwf12 "Look at what young people have already done in the world" Ray Kurzweil, \#Lwf12

I was invited to do a presentation on how governments learn to do new things. In the presentation I described two theoretical models of how governments learn and some of their short-comings. I also described a new approach that seems promising as it both has support in recent developments in the literature and is based on a realistic understanding of the everyday reality of the people tasked with policy-making and execution.  We are piloting it in the Council of Europe and the European Union through a massively collaborative online project called Edgeryders which casts young (and not so young) people as solution finders and protagonists, not beneficiaries or recipients, of policies designed to enable the futures they are building. If you’d like to participate in Edgeryders just go ahead and join the community , everyone is welcome. If you are an organisation interested in collaborating with us read  this executive summary for an overview. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch even if you are just curious about the project and want to know more about it or if you just want to say hi. My email address is in the document and you can ping me on twitter if you like (@ladyniasan ). Or even just leave a comment here :slight_smile: