Andrea Gewessler is director of Change that Matters Ltd

Have you ever used the phrase living in the real world?  Are you sure you live in it?  Many scientists and philosophers agree that reality is a highly relative concept.  Granted, certain beliefs that people may hold if they share the same profession, religion or in fact nonreligion or a love for music, cooking or cycling, may forge their views more closely together but nevertheless for almost every person the real world looks different. We all have our own idiosyncratic ways of seeing the social, political and natural environment we live in.

Of course there is a real world, it is just difficult to make out while we superimpose our values and beliefs onto it.  The proverbial rose-tinted glasses are worn by us all in different colours, shades, hues and all.  Some of these lenses we choose rather deliberately while others are passed on more or less by default, unquestioned, as part and parcel of our larger culture. Whether cultural norms that have developed over varying time periods, the media we are exposed to, the language(s) we speak, our cultural history, our family upbringing they all have a bearing on what we listen to, how we act and therefore how we view the world.

As educationalists we have an important question to ask. If there is no one reality how can we prepare young people for the real world?  If there is no one reality, does that mean that someone chooses (for us?) whose views count?  And whose views are those - those of politicians, artists, employers, religious leaders, journalists, technologists, scientists or bankers?

What would our education system, and specifically teaching and learning, look like if we chose deliberately to look at the world differently?  What if we chose different thought leaders to shape the reality of educational policy and funding?  Over the coming year I would like to explore different thinkers, well-established amongst those interested in sustainability issues.

Today let’s start with the late Donella Meadows. Donella Meadows was one of the contributors to the report Limits to Growth ?rst published in 1972 and an expert in complex systems.  Donella developed a seminal paper that still in?uences thinkers and strategists on key leverage points on intervening in complex systems.

Donella never considered it a ?nished piece of work but rather a starting point for exploring the counterintuitive world of systems.  What she placed at the top of the intervention hierarchy are the change of paradigm.  Paradigms are the key beliefs that shape our thinking and so of our reality.  So what are these key beliefs that shape society and education? Pursuit of economic growth based on continuous consumption of material goods must surely be at the top somewhere, maybe even at the very top.  It clearly shapes educational policy and the curriculum.

So when Donella argues that a system can be changed most effectively if we change the paradigms that is the basis of the system, then that would imply that in our society we would need to change the belief that economic growth is possible indefinitely.  Another one of her key leverage points to affect change in a system is to change the goal of the system itself.

Continuous economic growth is not only a belief that is deeply held but also a, if not, the key goal. You may ask why would we change the paradigm or the goal? Both are usually changed if they are found to be either not true and/or stop to serve us.  Science has quite clearly demonstrated that biophysically infinite economic growth that is based on material consumption is not possible as the planet will eventually run out of raw materials and also of space to accommodate the waste and absorb the emissions.

These limits to growth or planetary boundaries show us that the belief in the economic growth is illusionary.  There are also plenty of signs that the goal of economic growth is not serving us well.  These signs range from environmental degradation to personal, national and international debt problems, an increase in stress and social isolation, an absence of citizen participation to political conflicts, extreme weather conditions due to climate change and resource shortages.

They have possibly not hit us consistently hard enough in the West to bring it clearly home that intervening in the system at the paradigm and goal level would be the most effective way.  Instead we tend to focus at the lower level of leverage points to change the system such as how much CO2 we are allowed to release into the atmosphere or at what rate the interest rates should be set to stimulate economic growth.

At the lower end we are merely rearranging the status quo as the beliefs and goals remain unchanged.  So what would happen to the curriculum if society’s key goal changed?  What if the goal became to create common welfare instead of economic growth, as author and change agent Christian Felber advocates?  What would colleges, schools, universities teach if this were the goal?

How would it change subject priorities? How would you engage with employers if their key goal was to create common welfare and ?nancial income just an enabler rather than the main objective? How would the approach to teaching and learning change?  How would you judge success in this system?

Even on a less ambitious note how could educational organisations improve by changing paradigms and goals?  What are the defining sector paradigms and do they still serve society well?  What are your beliefs about teaching and learning and what would success look like if you challenged them?

The start of a new year is generally considered a new opportunity to make a fresh start, so let Donella Meadows be an inspiration to add new perspectives to our thinking by making use of her knowledge about how to best intervene in a system and create meaningful change.

Andrea Gewessler is director of Change that Matters Ltd, an independent company working with organisations and communities to bring about transformational change through dialogue, collaboration and innovation, and is particularly active in the sustainability field. Her work is inspired by systems thinking, the U-process developed at MIT as well as some of the emerging social technologies such as Future Search, Open Space, Change Labs and World Cafe. You can follow Andrea on Twitter , and Facebook, or find out more about her by visiting www.changethatmatters.co.uk

(Photograph credit: Seamus Ryan)

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel commented on this video 7 hours 3 minutes ago

The College of the Future
UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 7 hours 5 minutes ago

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel The College of the Future
UK-Wide Final Report
7 hours 3 minutes ago
loader
loader
Attachment
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 7 hours 5 minutes ago

RT @julia_heap1: Great to read this @YourAAT, started my own #AAT journey in my early 20’s & never looked back! Investment in lifelong lea…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page