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Integral Education: Strategic Challenges & Road-Map ahead (XIII). Strategic Innovation in Education – Primary School (Part I).

There is a difference between a strategy as a quest for profit (financial returns only) and strategy as a source of integral growth. I dedicate my life to corporate strategy as a source of integral growth. My mission is to help business owners and founders to define the products or services and its expansion for growth in order to create an integral, holistic and beautiful business. I guide them by using a unique mental framework tailor-made for each of them needs and wants. And I offer strategic innovation proposals.

When it comes to education, I use this blog to make you think. To reflect that corporate strategy is applied to every single venture or endeavor. Lately, we have been analyzing and reflecting about early childhood education. Today we will start with Primary school. Let´s jump into it.

When kids finish kindergarten, every kid is able to join first grade. In Latin American countries, the Anglo-Saxon kindergarten is equivalent to the children preparatory year previous to first grade. Elementary or Primary school starts with 1st grade and finishes with 6th grade. Each year kids attend school an average of  9 months per year. Usually, kids attend between 5 to 8 hours of school per day. Some schools start as early as 7AM   and finish at 12:30 PM.  Other schools require from kids to stay in the afternoon for complimentary or extracurriculum courses. Each grade has one professor. Each professor teaches the whole subject’s curriculum for each elementary grade. The list of courses may vary a bit here or a there depending on the type of entity (either if it is religious or bilingual).

Chesham primary school

Chesham Primary School Curriculum, Bury, England.

But in general, all over the world, elementary school courses from the curriculum are usually: Math, Language, History, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Geography, Technology (ICT), Arts, Music, Physical education or sports, a foreign language (usually English for non-English speaker countries), religious education (for those schools which belong to a religious denomination) and extracurricular activities (usually these are given in the afternoon). Once you read this list, the first question which comes into my mind is: where is the course Nature exploration? Where is the course play-based learning? where are the courses of ethical or moral values?  Where is the course respect to nature in all ways and forms? Where is the course community participation? Of course, blessed are the elementary schools that use the methodology of exploration and playing for each subject, but that is not the case for the majority of primary schools.

Let´s continue with a humble reflection about this curriculum, from the point of view of the strategic innovation paradigm.

Eliescalante Integral Education Strategic Innovation primary school.jpg

We have repeatedly shown you the strategic innovation paradigm for education:

If you see this figure, for today´s post, I am using the greek Markides basic model for strategic Innovation (Who, What and how). In addition,  I have added two new questions: when? and where?. Finally, as a cherry on top of the cream, I have added our 4 new elements described previously. Please notice these 4 new elements answer the question why.

  1. Talent Development for life (why)
  2. Purpose (why)
  3. Ethical Awe (why)
  4. Generational Impact-Legacy (why)

The elementary school purpose is to build the basics. That is why is called elementary. If this is the stage to build our elementary knowledge, we wonder if educators are displacing strategic innovation in our schools?

Let´s see what is happening: According to the World Economic Forum, there are new skills required for the Industry 4.0 era. Before continuing, let me remark when it comes to Industry 4.0 deployment timing. I believe the world is not ready for it, because we are not educated for it.

But let´s analyze what the WEF has prepared as a list of new skills required in the future (5 years from now). In addition, the WEF compares it with the old list of skills, which will decline to be requirements for future jobs. Look at the following figure.

WEF 2022 skills

Source: Future of the jobs report 2018, World Economic Forum

Please let´s stop here. Re-read both lists again. Moreover, let´s start with the blue list at your left (the growing skills). And once you read this list… you will feel the fine line that connects the dots between these 10 skills: That line is the word “thinking”. Everything in the WEF list skills required for the future is connected to the concept of a determined “mental framework” which is connected to analysis, problem-solving and innovation.

I deeply disagree with the WEF declining skills second list at your right (the blacklist). All these abilities will continue being required, and we have to keep them! We are obliged to keep them.    I don´t see these skills disappearing from the map of jobs repertoire. Why? Because an integral education requires not just a mental framework of thinking but the rest of the basic human capabilities listed in the blacklist at your right. We are evolving to add new skills, without dismissing what we already are capable to do.

First:  In elementary schools, we need to add value to the existing methodologies and curriculum.

baking breadThe successful human competencies, abilities, and skills from the past do not mean to be replaced with a new list or repertoire of skills and abilities. When we do this, philosophically we are erasing a part of ourselves, what was required in the past and replacing it with new competencies which involuntarily will also be needed. Let´s use a metaphor, it is like trying to replace the supermarket list of my mother, with a new list in which the white bread and butter that she bought, has to be replaced with multigrain integral bread and extra virgin olive oil. At the end of the day, it is the same nature of the products with different components (white or multigrain bread is the same carbohydrate and butter-oil is the same fat), but the format is different in my generation compared with my mother´s format.

Now, let´s transfer the last metaphor to primary education. For the future, the rationale here is not to replace an old list of skills or courses with a new list of skills or courses. The bottom line is not to replace, but to add value to the existing list of competencies, qualifications, methodologies, and practices. For example, Markides coined the strategic innovation framework 20 years ago. What I did was not to replace Markides model, but to enhance it with what is missed and it is required in our current context of reality.

kids addig.jpgThe required mental framework for the future is not linked only to how we think, but personally, I believe it is an haute-scale in the evolution of our education. This means, in the future, we will need the old skills PLUS the new and different mental frameworks required to solve all the issues our planet has. In elementary schools, we need to add value to the existing methodologies and curriculum. We need to evolve, we need to use exploration and play-based learning in our existing courses, not to replace them. Exploration and learning by playing (two elements from pre-school) are determinants to keep during primary school.

Second:  In primary school, kids have to continue exploring. To learn that making mistakes is part of life. Kids have to embrace the process of trial and error and the concept of prototyping.

dahl mathilda 4.jpgPrimary school is the period of years where we teach our brains how to think the basics. That is why is called elementary. Since we need to evolve our existing mental frameworks to make better decisions for the future. The capacity to have holistic and integral brains, who see things with a 360 degrees perspective has to be taught in primary education. The only way we can help kids´ brains with innovative cognitive frameworks is through letting kids to explore and make mistakes.

Each subject in primary school is an opportunity or tool that educators may use to do strategic innovation. Every concept taught by educators has to include the three basic questions from Markides: who, what and how? And it has to include the new questions added by Eleonora Escalante Strategy where? When? and why?

When it comes to the question of why? My advice or suggestion to the educators is that they have to keep in mind the four vectors of why? shown above in the slide.

important values in life.jpgFinally, let the kids to give the answers. Exploration means to ask questions and find answers in nature. Educators are here to help, to guide and facilitate, not to impose good answers. It is part of the process of learning for kids to be responsible to find the right answer.  How will they find them? By making mistakes and correcting them. By making mistakes, they will learn to adjust the process, learning from them and trying again. They will learn to don´t give up. Kids will learn the values of persistence, entrepreneurial spirit and passion to find the right answers.

On my next publication, I will develop an example of how the elementary school different subjects have to be oriented for strategic innovation. I will use the example of my own life primary school curriculum.

To be continued… Stay tuned.


Source references utilized for this publication:

Disclaimer: All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante MBA-MEng. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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