Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Its what we do together that sets us apart

“It’s what we do together that sets us apart.”
Apple, Corporate Careers Site


In preparation for our Community Gathering on August 3rd, some parents have asked me to share things to get them thinking about modern learning.  Here’s the first sharing:


One of the key attributes of a lifelong learner is the ability to collaborate.  Together, people can achieve more and employers actively seek people who can work effectively in teams.


To prove this point I have looked up the Forbes top 100 list of the most successful companies in 2015.  Most of the top 10 are banks.  The first is a bank, and I’ve recorded the next four that aren’t banks.  Then, I’ve looked at their careers sites to find out what they want in employees.  Initiative and innovation are highly sought after and I’ll cover those in another post another day.  Today I’m thinking about collaboration and this is what these Forbes top 100 companies think:


World Ranking
Company
What the Company says
Reference
1st
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
“Employees are encouraged to excel and contribute
7th (first non-bank)
Exxon
To think independently, to take initiative and be innovative.
Right now, teams of engineers, scientists and business people are inventing new technologies that will unlock the secrets to the energy systems of tomorrow.  
Combined talents of our diverse workforce help us to lead the competition.
9th
General Electric
The best, brightest people who are trying hard, who are humble, who are living their dreams and are willing to do it together.
11th
Toyota
Do you consider yourself innovative, team focused, broad-minded and passionate about your career?
12th
Apple

It’s what we do together that sets us apart.

We’re perfectionists. Idealists. Inventors. Forever tinkering with products and processes, always on the lookout for better. Whether you work at one of our global offices, offsite, or even at home, a job at Apple will be demanding. But it also rewards bright, original thinking and hard work.


None of these companies specify a particular body of knowledge.  All of them specify personal attributes.  I’m not saying that educators are ONLY preparing children for future employment.  But if we don’t, we’re doing them a great disservice.  What we actually do is help children grow to their full potential - to be rounded, respectful, holistic individuals who live life to the fullest (John 10:10 again).  This also seems to be the type of people these companies think are needed to change the world.


Changes in technology mean schools can now use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ways that support the development of these necessary skills.  It used to be that our programs were individualised on separate machines.  We could save to a shared source - such as the network driver but we couldn’t work together at the same time.  With Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or Office 365 you can simultaneously work on the same document and you don’t even have to be in the same place.


This is just the beginning.  I believe it will significantly change how the world works.  It won’t be as necessary for people to congregate in offices in cities.  It has the potential to revitalise our rural communities.  People will be able to live in lovely places (such as Pleasant Point) and work anywhere in the world, all the while staying in their lovely places, supporting local trade and industry and enriching their local communities.


What does this mean for students?  Imagine you’re brainstorming something.  The children who have a lot to say will contribute a lot, some will contribute nothing.  They can only contribute as fast as the recorder can record.  Some children will be switched off altogether.  Some will feel very inadequate as the “better” ideas of the more confident children get heard and shared - those children feeling quiet and inadequate may actually have brilliant ideas.


A transformative moment is the first time you get a whole class of children logged into their own Google accounts, with their own devices, to add to a group brainstorm on a shared doc which comes up on the whiteboard.  Everyone’s ideas go up and at the end when you come to think about them they’re already recorded and ready to be analysed and synthesised.  Its not a quiet and rigid classroom with children behind rows of desks glued to devices.  Children are talking, responding to others’ ideas, developing their own ideas further and rushing to add them to the sharing.  The teacher is no longer the gateway for ideas.  Ideas come from everywhere.  

It is extremely important that our children learn to be innovative, to take risks, to collaborate and work effectively in teams.  To do this they need sound teaching on how to be collaborative and resourceful and they need the “tools of the trade.”