At ZEMOS98 we’ve always liked education. So much so that a few years ago we dedicated our eleventh festival to Educación Expandida (expanding education): the idea that education can take place at any moment, at any time and in any place, through methodologies and processes express forms of knowledge not found in formal education. These are reflections that we gathered together in a book whose spirit has continued to accompany us through all of our work.
Recently we returned to pick the notion of expanding education up again. This was to prepare our proposal for NEMESIS, an EU Horizon2020 project that we’re working on with thirteen other associations from seven European countries. A project where we’re working hand in hand with teachers, social innovators, researchers and mediators who share our interest about the social implication of educational processes.
Over three years the participants are going to develop and test an educational model for social change – wow. A model that stimulates the critical feelings of students, waking up their social conscience in the face of communal problems, and providing them with the necessary tools to try and resolve these problems. That is to say, an educational model that empowers the students to become the motors for change. In fact, our motto is precisely that: “empowering the changemakers of tomorrow”.
What will this model be like? Well, it will have three fundamental principles: an emphasis on the social component of innovation, a connection with local context, and the idea that knowledge comes from collaboration and collective intelligence. In fact, the cornerstone of the model is something that we’ve called the co-creation laboratory: a space where families, students, teachers and social learners work together as equals.
It’s lovely, isn’t it? But… how do you stick to it? Well, by applying the same principles of collaboration and co-creation that we’ve already proposed; so, combining the knowledge and experience of each association to create a pedagogical model. A model that we want to be easy to replicate, as flexible as possible so it can be adapted to different contexts and, perhaps, it can be published in the form of a manual. A prototype (yes, it wouldn’t be us if there weren’t a prototype). User instructions for how to hack the educational institution.
We know that there are lots of challenges ahead of us, in fact, the project will also try to take some of them on. The resistance to change in schools, the lack of open educational resources and the difficulties of taking innovation beyond the upper and middle classes. And then to respond to the more mundane doubts that we had when we started to talking about expanding education: how do you get social innovation into a maths class?
And yet, we’re inspired. We’ve always thought that a school was the perfect place to transform reality, not only using technology but all the imagination, the commons, and the collective intelligence. And now we have the opportunity to work with 13 other associations from 7 different countries to try and succeed. Don’t tell us that we don’t dream big!