The goal of education in the 21st century must be to develop individuals who are able to create an economy of purpose as well as profit. People with the skill and confidence to replace the impossible with the I’m Possible.
1st Annual Penny Conference by Skillshare
These were the closing remarks of the final speaker at the 1st annual Skillshare Penny Conference, founder of Pencils of Promise Adam Braun The Brain. Or maybe The Heart. Anyway he ought to know about scary big dreams. His dreams might scare a lot of people. He wants to eliminate the barriers to a formal education for approximately 67 million children in our world, who can not even spell their own name. I mean when these kids find out what is going on what are they gonna do then.
What is scarier however is, he has a plan. And what is more it just might work. It goes like this. $25 educates a child $10,000 builds a classroom. Set up the classrooms in the schools in each community so that they are owned by the people of the community. This begins the process to the end of ignorance.
And what will be taught in these $10,000 classrooms at 25 bucks a kid? This. Find your purpose and develop the skills you need by practicing the skills you learn and apply them to that purpose. When you can do that you can start to dream those scary big dreams with a bit of confidence.
The theme of this years Penny conference was; How will we rebuild education for the 21stcentury, What will it look like. How will we build it together? The conference was sold out at the The Times Center venue located at 242 W 41st St New York, NY 10036
The conference kicked off with an opening overview speech by Skillshare Co-Founder and CEO Michael Karnjanaprakorn.
The idea of the Penny Conference he began is to emulate what were called the Penny universities of 18th cebntury. It seems that in the “Age of Enlightenment” of the 1700′s there was such a thirst for knowledge that people would go to coffee houses, pay a penny and talk to whoever else was there and exchange knowledge and expertise so as to better solve the problems of their communities. Skillshare is a teaching and learning exchange and it has a slogan; . Learn anything from anyone, anywhere.
He went on to explain the underpinnings of Skillshare’s strategy for creating a 21st century learning system to replace todays educational system. First it is important to understand the difference between learning and education. Education is earning degrees and satisfying a curriculum and learning is satisfying curiosity. Curiosity asks how do I do that. Earning an educational degree asks how do I tell the teacher the information they want to hear. Education tries to eliminate mistakes but learning is about making mistakes and then learning how to get it right. Education is a formal school setting but learning can happen anywhere.
In a learning environment, once a thing is learned it can be applied and taught to another and in teaching it the student will begin to teach the teacher through the questions asked and approaches the student will take that may never have occurred to the teacher alone.
On a personal level what is possible at Skillshare? Their top student took 70 classes, (and that is a lot of classes) and paid only $2279 dollars, One of their top teachers made $10,000 teaching 1 course. Now this is only their first year in operation but things are going so well that General Electric will be helping to create a school with them this year.
The next speaker Tony Wagner further defined Skillshares goals and strategy for education re invention in the 21st century. He is currently the Co–founder of Change Leadership Group. He is also a fellow at Harvard University so he knows a bit about formal education. His thesis. the education of the past which has given rise to the present education system we have today is based on knowledge scarcity. The idea that information is hard to get and must be formally dispensed by gatekeepers that have it to give. This however is not true in the 21st century. Knowledge is free. We can get information everywhere on the net and learn anything we want to know if we look long and hard enough. Knowledge is being updated many times everyday. Even new elements have been added to the periodic table in the last 4 years. What you learned in school 4 years ago has already been added to and modified.
In order for 21st century education to be effective it must foster these skills abilities.in people. Critical thinking,
information gathering and use
Another very interesting thing that he said was that when people were surveyed and asked what teacher did they remember that stood out for them and was significant, it turns out that those teachers were not the mainstream teachers but usually the outliers. The ones outside the mainstream of teaching, Those without tenure etc. He also echoed the importance of making mistakes as fundamental to the learning process. saying in effect that mistakes are the hallmark of innovation and invention.Learning in the 21st century must teach how to turn mistakes into knowledge.
For the complete conference speeches go check out the Penny Conference page on Livestream.
More tomorrow on this important conference.