When at a lecture, do you ever wonder what you would do differently were you the teacher? What would you change? Or have you never dared to doubt the unshakable truth spoken by your teachers? Have you never doubted their teaching methods even if they never suit you? Because the teacher knows better and that is the fundamental truth.
Well, this September at the oikos Summer School the axiom has been subjected to questions.
We listened. We talked. We asked and answered questions. We played. We watched films. We listened to music and danced. We really tried to draw. We even made graphs! We used a lot of flip charts. And don’t even get me started on the post-it notes. But in the end, all it came down to was knowledge. Because we learned. And we learned a lot.
Unconventional, you might say. Fruitful, would we respond.
The facilitators, Anna, Chris and Julia, took us on a journey through the different types of learning and leadership, exposing us to an eye-opening idea that classes are a reciprocal process where both the students and the teachers can teach and learn from each other. Multiple times have they forced us out of our comfort zones, proven that we can do the things we had never thought we could be capable of. They have taught us (and we taught them) that leadership is not one person taking charge, but rather a mechanism of equality and interdependence.
After having passed down the knowledge and skills, facilitators handed the relay to us to hold our own sessions.
A risk, you might think. Fun, would we prove.
Anano Tsitaishvili, session on Education
“The most important developments in civilization have come through the creative process, but ironically, most people have not been taught to be creative.”
– Robert Fritz.
learning strategies. To form knowledge and skills it is essential to use creative approaches of teaching, therefore several formal education institutions are shifting to creative learning, although the process is time-consuming. But as far as the other education establishments are concerned, creativity is widely neglected.
oikos Summer School 2016 focused on the issues of the current education system that young people have to face regularly. Team of Education facilitated the subject of creativity in education and discussed the drawbacks of the backgrounds of students from different countries. The organizational structure of the session involved the following steps:
Ø Team Identity;
Ø Team Objectives;
Ø Collaboration and Participation;
Ø Small Group Games;
Ø Issue Negotiation and Resolution;
The team aimed to show the unsurpassed practices of creative teaching that the western world is using on different levels of education. Throughout discussions, students used story telling method for clarifying their school backgrounds. Notably, none of them had experienced creative approaches at schools and in most cases the reasons were connected with teachers’ fear of innovative strategies.
Reflections of the students showed to our team that:
– There are improvements in students’ motivation to transfer formal education to a more creative one;
– There is a need to bring greater clarity in expressing ideas through group discussions;
– It is essential to use resources more efficiently;
– People should try to become exploring leaders and make a positive impact on our society.
Giorgi Devrisashvili, session on Climate Change
Nowadays climate change is the biggest problem of humanity. It is already happening and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats the humankind had ever had to face. The vitality of this issue is the reason our team chose this topic for our session. After doing a research on the topic, our team was astonished by how serious the problem is: the climate can affect every individual, and our health directly through a rise of global temperatures. Such increase may lead to more extreme heat waves during the summer while producing less extreme cold spells during the winter. Particular groups of population, such as those suffering from heart disease, asthma, the elderly, and the very young can be especially vulnerable to extreme heat. All these changes in the global climate can eventually result in disastrous floods and droughts, and hurricanes.
At the presentation we watched a small movie about what is causing the climate change. By the end of the presentation we had a discussion with the audience about the ways to solve this problem, what society can do to decrease the changing process, what kind of leaders do we need to deal with this challenge.
But we aren’t satisfied by these, we are going to continue what we have started, we are planning to be involved in discussions about this topic, to share our opinions and listen to environmentalists. We are going to plant trees and be involved in cleaning process which is vital for our city. We also want to have similar presentation for letting students and local community know how serious this problem is and that we need unity to tackle one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century – climate change.
Mariam Gakhokidze, session on World Hunger
I’m glad that I have a chance to speak about oikos Summer School, as I’m truly happy that I was one of the members of this excellent project. The main topic of this event was Management Education for a Better World. Through this widely-encompassing topic, we had an opportunities to discuss and exchange information on how to overcome many problems around us. It was inspiring to see students from different countries bond so easily over a mutual desire to tackle global issues.
oikos Summer School also hosted three excellent facilitators who shared their knowledge and experience with us. We’ve learnt the types of leadership and what we can do to perform well in a team. We were told about different learning methods, and what’s important for education, and knowledge.
I’m really proud to be a part of such an informed, motivated and active generation. We came up with ideas on how to overcome the global problems, and I’m sure that we can make them come to life to create a better World.
Finally I wish success to oikos Tbilisi and I would like to thank all the people who created this wonderful project, which has brought many of the students together for the same great purpose.
Sheyda Karimova, session on Water Pollution
Our group work started off a little bit edgy as we couldn’t decide on the topic. In a way, it was even inspiring to see how each of us had something we were eager to speak up about. Gender equality, marine life, animal rights, poverty, pollution, and the list goes on. At last, we decided to ask ourselves a few hard questions. What’s the most important thing in our lives? The absence of what would have made life impossible?
We settled for something the importance of which neither of us could argue. And that is water. The substance we take for granted. The vital part of everything around us and everything that is us. It makes up our bodies, the air we breathe, the plants we love, the forests we cut, and the oceans we pollute.
Our group tried to remind others of how important it is to keep in mind that while we have access to clean water, others struggle to take a sip of it every day. While we mindlessly keep the water running when brushing our teeth, we are responsible for dehydration of hundreds. We tried to remind them of the strong connection there is between water and humans. We tried to remind them that we do not need water to survive, we need it to be.
The actions we take might seem insignificant, and amount to “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
Chris Taylor, Facilitator
What impressed me most in Tbilisi was the appetite for team work. I think every single participant had an intuitive sense of how to collaborate productively with others – even when we broke up teams and reformed them with different people.
This is incredibly encouraging. The world is getting more and more complex and is facing very significant challenges. No single leader will have everything it takes to tackle these issues. We will need a whole generation of leaders able to work together, share skills, play to each others’ strengths. This kind of collaborative leadership is the only thing that will get us through challenges like climate change, world poverty, war and extremism.
I left Georgia feeling positive and hopeful for the future. I feel I have seen a glimpse of what is possible – the real power of human potential, the way incredible things are possible when people work together for a common cause. What a great way to spend a summer!
Anna Beyer, Facilitator
Education for a better world was this year’s oikos summer school topic in Tbilisi
To be honest, three months ago Julia and I were not that certain if the summer school would happen but kudos to the organizing team. They made it work and in a very smooth and sophisticated manner too.
The overall idea of COMMIT is to provoke change through workshops (primarily) in university education to make education more sustainable and students more active and included in their own learning environment. Since most of our experiences were so far gathered in Europe and some in North America, the oikos Summer School in Tbilisi with participants mostly from the Caucasus region was a chance for us to try out our ideas on education in a very different environment and culture. The 5-day summer school was also the longest and most outreaching facilitation we did so far. I have to admit, I was very nervous at the beginning. We didn’t really know what to expect, how people would react to our facilitation techniques, if we would be able to get our ideas across and how the participants would work together.
Now a few days after, my batteries charged again and back to my day to day life, I am finally able to reflect on the last week at the oikos Summer school 2016. Not to overstep to the boundaries of a readable not Tolstoi-sized blog entry I guess expressing my feelings in adjectives is probably the best way to go:
Energized, expectant, hopeful, happy but also a little gloomy it ended and longing for more would probably be the most accurate to describe my current state of mind.
It has been an amazing experience working with all these beautiful people, who once feeling comfortable in the group, have been spilling over with ideas and excitement. Even those admitting to be shy and hesitant at the very beginning turned out to be outgoing and vivid creatures fitting naturally in their tasks within the group and their final role of being facilitators.
But it wasn’t just the participants who seemed to have evolved to a totally new level of being and getting to know themselves, but also very much us, facilitating the summer school. This brings me back to the very beginning of this article and COMMIT’s goal to provoke a mutual learning from everyone taking part (facilitators and participants, students and professors…) in the sessions, which I definitely did. Having fruitful discussion with people very different from myself (or very similar as well) made me think about topics I wouldn’t have before and also helped me to get to know myself a little better, widen my horizon (for example about religion or the various opinions on conflicts in the region) and expand my comfort zone (and also my patience a little 😉 ). I am curious to what comes next and COMMITed to changing education for a better world.
Edited by Sheyda Karimova