This is the third in a series of ten posts about my experience last week at the 2009 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna.
The first keynote was from Franz Kuehmayer from Reflections, Research and Consulting. Franz was a good speaker to get the proceeding rolling. I felt that a lot of early quotes from his presentation came from the work that has been done by Karl Fish on the Shifthappens presentation. But still Franz had me captivated. He said a couple of really important things that I liked including,
'Teachers do not just help children prepare for the future - they help children shape the future'
And, despite Franz getting Batman and Spiderman mixed up he really made me re-think and intellectually re-visit some of the work from Friedman the author of the ‘The World is Flat’ and most recently, ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’ (the latter of which I really enjoyed).
I liked his continued references to,
‘education being stuck in the industrial age
while the rest of the world has moved on to the information age’.
thought it was very interesting when he referenced Europe as being a clear winner in globalization but questioned how we could continue
to be a winner. It was interesting to find out that China now sources some of their labour to Africa – what
a basis for a geography unit!
for me, things started to get really interesting and very refreshing. Franz
' education is about transferring knowledge. But it’s also about
transferring values and innovation'
He mentioned Social Entrepreneurship, a subject very close to my own heart (see my C-Project work). I realised that we were both speaking the same language.
Next followed an analogy of Lisa Simpson. In the Simpsons Cartoon Lisa is a very talented and intellectual girl. But Franz argued, beautifully, that Lisa would not survive and reach her potential in the 21st Century world.
Bearing in mind, Lisa is a fictional character, it was a fascinating argument. He suggested that she might get the wrong advice from her parents, no-one noticed her at school, that playing the saxophone was unlikely to get her a job and Springfield simply wasn’t important enough. Although Franz didn’t explicitly say it I would like to think he was hinting towards the impotent role of responsible parenting and early intervention within a child’s development.
He summed up his argument by saying, 'modern education systems must embrace the talent and creativity of the entire population’. I would also add the word ‘recognise’ to this statement – far too many schools don’t recognise true talent just because children don’t get tested on it.
Next, Kuehmayer moved onto school architecture stating that, ‘A school of the future is not a fascinating building... but it has to create fascinating pupils’. I loved that idea – I’m a futurist and an optimist and I think schools should look very different in 20 years time this may mean that many of them might not have walls. But they still have to create interesting, fascinating, creative and employable people.
I also liked his next quote, ‘Students should not be recipients of information they should be information partners and explorers!’ As I tweeted this I received a reply from mwclarkson he replied, ‘The danger is you produce a generation of children who are not prepared to accept “anything” they are told.’ Mark is of course right and despite a quick discussion on the twitter conference back channel neither of us was any clearer how we might find a balance between these two ideals.
Franz moved onto social networking and games based technology. He mentioned the xBox (my ears perked up!) – ‘The xbox shouldn't be used to keep children quiet. It should be used for learning’. I immediately sent him an offer to come and look at my contribution to the European Innovative teachers Forum!
Next, some statistics about social networking, society and employment. Franz comparing playing World of Warcraft to remote project management and unified communication. He stated that, '35% of parents can put on Internet filters on home PC’s – 63% of children know how to bypass these controls.’ and then emphasised the role of responsible use.
I just wish I could have had a chance to have a beer with Franz. I think that he would have been interested on my on Social Entrepreneurship work, Internet Safety and Responsible Use Initiative and of course my work on Computer Games Based Learning Work.
Franz had to quickly rush away from the conference. BUT he almost immediately contacted me via twitter
after he had finished his keynote to thank me for live tweeting his talk and then
he even started following me.
For me this is another example of how professionals can continue their discussion after the ‘traditional’ conference is over. I’m also confident that Franz will pick up on this blog post via Google alerts, his RSS reader or other conference feed. So I would just like to say, ‘Franz I enjoyed your presentation and you gave me loads to think about!’