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Losing our brains with disruptive technologies (XXXVI): Classrooms… essential boot camps for our society.

As I promised yesterday, today´s post is about how I foresee an excellent model of education, without dismissing the positive things of using digital technologies, but keeping the benefits and advantages of the traditional education model with innovative content.

Bunny2 Eleonora Escalante cropped

A section of the aquarelle “Innocence” by Eleonora Escalante.

Before proceeding further, from these coronavirus pandemic times, we all have observed that there are at least 8 main types of jobs:

  1. Working from home jobs (WFH). The majority of professional industries that work with the knowledge economy can do it at home. And all the industries, including, manufacturing, retail, agriculture, banking, finance, and administrative workers have a certain number of employees who can work from home. These are between 15% to 35% of the total workforce in mixed diversified economies.
  2. Mobile Jobs: Those who work on the road, those who belong to the amazon delivery dispatch economy, particularly in the distribution, transportation and logistics industries.
  3. Essential Jobs: Health Value Chain (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies), Agriculture / Food Chain Production and Groceries Retailers,  Cleaning-Sanitizer Public Workers, manufacturing-factories workers of essential products and needs.
  4. Services Jobs: those jobs related to food and drink restaurants; hospitality; leisure, traveling and vacation industries; personal care (beauty salons, barbers, makeup artists, manicurists);
  5. Sports and artistic jobs: gyms, sports teams in every discipline, museums, galleries, fashion, music, dance, concert gatherings, and religious events.
  6. Communication and information jobs: Here is the segment of the media, journalism and telecommunication industries.
  7. Education-Learning jobs: Kindergartens, schools, universities, learning specialized centers, vocational training, language schools, research centers,  etc.
  8. Security jobs: Military, police-man, everyone that protects and provides law enforcement in communities.

Bunny2 Eleonora Escalante cropped 2There are plenty of other types of jobs, but I have tried to segment the most relevant ones. These weeks of “stay at home confinement” have given us the window to experience digital alternatives that are helping us to cope with the quarantine. For those of us who are WFH (Working from home), our life has been the same (with or without pandemic). Nevertheless, this pandemic has affected the rest, those non-WFH, which represent more than 75% of workers in the world.

Our normal activities are being disrupted by the Coronavirus. Digital learning can be done at home only for those families which have access to Internet or can pay the Internet bill. But if the family provider loses his or her job, the Internet bill won´t be able to be paid.  When it comes to the education sector, what worries me the most is to perceive that some irrational leaders are trying to force the conversion or transformation from the traditional education model to the digital model. This is insane.  We can´t switch an education model only because of a “behemoth pandemic crisis”. I also have perceived that the traditional education model is being “questioned” because of the convenience of digital learning tools.  Wrong. No, No, No. Stop, please.

Bunny2 Eleonora Escalante cropped 2¿3We can´t switch from the traditional to the digital, just because of a “once in a lifetime pandemic”, without analyzing the implications of those decisions. I am convinced that the “study or learn from home using digital online platforms” is simply a temporary substitute meanwhile we can find a global cure to Covid19. We can´t switch to digital education,  because the digital model is not integral. Digital learning is not the way to go. One thing is to pass the emergency (temporal solution), and another one is to accept the digital education as the norm.

Classrooms are important. Let´s see why classrooms from the traditional model are important, are crucial, and are beneficial for societies (regardless if these societies are rich or poor):

Classrooms Direct Beneficial Gains

Classroom Pains that help to create needed boundaries

To gather students of diverse background, economic status & family acculturation To learn to say no
To learn to work in teams To avoid unhealthy relationships
To learn to share feelings for friendships of a lifetime To confront bullying
To discover the benefit of practicing social distance To defend and protect their own
To acquire the value of respect authority (with professors) To establish limits towards social peer pressures
To learn to connect with empathy To disagree with abnormal behavior from others
To learn to discuss with esteem and honor To make mistakes and be resilient
To learn to lead audiences To say no to drugs, alcohol, excessive party time
To observe with details To be disciplined when others don´t want to
To learn to keep attention to details To obey the good rules and stand up for them
To learn to segment and differentiate To weight with fairness the injustices
TO interact with different attitudinal and behavioral groups To get things using persuasion and not violence
To advise and receive counseling To defeat envy, anger, gluttony
To use persuasion to get collective support To tame extreme emotions
To choose the battles or let it go To think before speaking
To learn how to become a force for good To help and express solidarity with those who unfairly are broken
To learn to become the public relations manager of their own life To prevent danger
To solve problems in teams To cope and manage stress
To debate, to fight with ideas To prioritize activities under pressure
To win self-esteem To seek immunity against troubles and odds beyond control
To practice super positive thoughts To switch negative thoughts and go on
To fight harder against the rest To cope with strains or overwhelming situations
To structure critical thinking To reject superficiality
To gain a balanced emotional edge To identify and avoid stressors
To use humor to handle stress To reduce irritable responses or overreacting to minor events
To balance mood swings To learn to say no to procrastination
To find activities for enhancing overall well being To learn how to concentrate in the middle of despair
To become a researcher (introspect, analysis or errors, practice scenarios, find down to earth solutions) To reject unreasonable problem solving
To be vulnerable with good feelings. To love others without expecting anything To pass up the gross, the hateful and the nasty
To be diligent To refuse sloth
To practice humbleness without losing to love themselves To decline excessive pride
To share knowledge and opportunities To stop selfishness
To learn how to do strategic partnerships and alliances To evade incorrect friendships and partnerships
To train minds to think properly and conjointly To keep the individual and limit group-think

Bunny2 Eleonora Escalante cropped 1Classrooms are boot camps. Our personalities, character and ultimately, our brains are trained in schools. If we remove the classrooms from education, we are simply creating human beings who won´t be able to respond to the most important real life society situations. No man is an island. Alone we can´t do anything, but only all together. And classrooms help us to discern the good and the bad. Since each student is unique, each with a different version, the diversity of a classroom is a treasure. The sociocultural perspective of classrooms is essential for our integral development. Bootcamps are training camps that help us to be ready when we will be confronted with real life. To erase classrooms from the equation education, in our quest to fill it through online digital experiences, we are removing the benefits of collective education, and we are suppressing the ability to create protective covers needed for each of us, in each difficult situation. By adopting digital solitude education,  is like cutting the brains to respond under a bubble that won´t provide us with the emotional-rational-cognitive armor. A shield that will protect us for the rest of our life. In addition, friendships from school last a life-time, and are irreplaceable.

Online digital experiences can be utilized but with a limited scope or only for emergencies (as this pandemic).   Digital applications and technology resources shouldn´t be the main meal or the principal dish in education. Digital experiences must be taken as a dessert or as a side dish, with careful observation, or as a “cherry on top of the dessert”. I believe an excellent education mix is an 80-20. 80% traditional innovative model (with classrooms, excellent teachers, books and bibliotheques) and only 20% digital (online). This 80 Traditional – 20 Digital rule must apply to all from pre-kindergarten levels to universities.

Several innovative school models have been tested during the last decade. There are models in which the traditional school model has been disrupted but not with technologies, but with conceptual value propositions. Some models are utmost in relation to adopting new community teaching methods (using field trips, rejecting social norms, or partnering with local municipalities for volunteering). For example, Sra Pou Village School in Cambodia is a school built by community members, for creating their own independent business entrepreneurs. Other school models leave the core diligent lectures and home-works behind, and they substitute it with experiments and exploring. Other education models have been tested, which offer the tools to transform knowledge into action such as the Orestad Gymnasium in Denmark. Other schools have started to ignite the creative passions into each student first.  Other schools pair students with mentors who can help them to take decisions in relation to their future careers, and the apprenticeship concept is applied well before university, like Big Picture Learning, Providence, Rhode Island. In the US, Phillips Academy is considered one of the top schools, because it provides an integral education, by merit.

Tech Heavy Schools are also experiments for the time being. Of course, there are leading-edge tech schools. These tech schools are using each and all the disruptive technologies, boosting the STEM model and sponsored by the big tech corporations.  An example is P-Tech Highschool, Brooklyn, New York. Another case is the Steve Jobs school in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; which is implementing an individual development plan for each student, using the high tech from Apple Inc. In California, there are several schools who started to ignite tech-heavy workloads, because they have promised a close path to Silicon Valley. One of these schools is Alt-school, sponsored by Silicon Valley billionaires who got tired of “normal schools”. Each to its own.

Alt School 2013

Alt School. California. Photo source: Business Insider.

Our duty is to create balanced schools. I believe the best thing for kids or teenagers or university students when learning is to have both models in one. The 80 – 20, or 80% Traditional Innovative School with  20% of digital online exposure seems to be a good rule of thumb.  There are repetitive basic things in which digital applications can help kids to at least get some memory practice, kind of an introductory lesson, but those activities do not ignite creativity neither critical thinking. The limitation of digital education is abysmal in comparison to the instruction that takes place in the classroom. At the moment the digital model is mediocre or “meh”. It works if we want to pass grades or under an Amazon Echo or with Alexa gadget, but it doesn´t ignite creativity, it doesn´t trigger curiousity, neither innovative or strategic reflections on how to solve problems with a visionary mindset. Traditional schools know their own worth. Digital tools are simply “outils” to get informed or to find general information. The discernment and reflection come from the teacher quality guidance and the classroom. We need innovative schools with innovative teachers who can help students to develop curiousity.

I truly hope that educational decision-makers can learn to put the correct boundaries to the digital when it comes to our innovative education models. It is insane that we kill the brains of our kids in our search to use technological tools. At the end of the day,  education is the base of our societies, if we robotically automatize it, or if we leave it out of balance, our civilizations will reap what we might mistakenly seed.

Have a beautiful week. Tomorrow we will start with the recreate-Art-Sports activities when it comes to disruption tech. Blessings.

brain bearfoot graphics

Sources of Information cited in this blog:

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images 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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