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What is the future of education?

by Hayley Lapalme on 11th November, 2013 at 9:15 PM CEST


The Challenge:Youth are living in a rapidly changing world.  We are the generation that accesses sophisticated databases of knowledge using Google from the home office headquarters of our start-ups and then Skype friends across the globe to test our hypothesss.  This is not our parents’ world.  And it’s not the world we knew as primary and secondary students either.  The constant that we can count on is that the way we communicate, do business, and experience the world will continue to evolve. Participants in the My Dream Job competition were asked to harness the power of their dreams for the future and to craft models of their ideal jobs, companies, and education for the year 2022.  The semi-finalists refined this thinking to propose an education system which would support the learning and development required to be successful in the future.

Three winning teams were recognized at the CF Summit 2013 for the models they proposed to creatively destroy and evolve the education system to keep pace with their visions of the future.   We caught up with them this week to get some perspective on the sweat and ideas that went into the competition and to steal a glimpse into where they are headed in the future.

Here we are happy to share the first in a series of three interviews we conducted with our winners from teams I.G.N.I.T.E, Good Riddance team, and Achievement 2022.  We’re starting in Singapore, with team I.G.N.I.T.E, the dynamic trio made up by Siddharth Rajgopalan, Melania Tan, and Muhammad Amrullah Bin Zainal Abidin.

IGNITE’s Vision

Team IGNITE conceived of a three-year education system built on the pillars of volunteerism, apprenticeship, and entrepreneurship.  In their own words, “IGNITE envisions an ecosystem that emphasizes holistic character development, hands on learning and strong collaboration, thus grooming future grounded leaders who pave the way for social change.  We believe that volunteering opens the eyes of students to possibilities and builds a strong community, apprenticeship helps students work with experienced mentors to really understand and appreciate different trades of life and finally entrepreneurship challenges students to take risks and builds a resilient character. These core aspects will be incorporated into modules such as craftsmanship, spirituality and farming. At IGNITE, we believe that both the modules and the environment the student experiences is important to character development. We believe that the IGNITE model will nurture visionaries who will be courageous enough to bring bold changes to our world.

CF: What was the genesis of your team and its idea?  How did you all come together on this topic?

IGNITE: The three of us came together as a team for a Hackathon in Singapore and found that we work really well together. The main unifying force for us was the fact that all three of us were volunteers at Ground-up Initiative [GUI].


CF: What was the biggest challenge your team faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge in our team was perspective. All of us came from different backgrounds both in terms of culture [Siddharth – Indian, Amrullah – Singaporean, Melanie – Malaysian] and educational background [Siddharth – Engineering, Amrullah – Liberal Arts, Melanie – Social Science]. Our brainstorming sessions often involved the collision of these perspectives, like the analogy of the three blind men and the elephant, Melanie saw the trunk, Sid saw the body and Amrullah saw the feet. The most beautiful point of the journey was when we realized how important each of these perspectives are and the biggest problem in education was the segregation rather than integration of these perspectives. From the point of that realization we start building towards a holistic education system.

CF: Why did you come to believe in the three methods of education you've chosen to focus on - volunteerism, apprenticeship, and entrepreneurship?  And why are they essential to the future of education?

Melanie: All 3 of us were also involved in some degree in all of these areas [at GUI]. We have seen how each other grow from these experiences. They are essential to the future of education because the current education system lacks creativity, moral courage and values. Despite the promotion of technology as the future of education, the fact is, it is still a very human world. We need humans to decide on ethical issues, we need the human imagination to come up with innovative products and ideas.

Siddharth: We took a step back to observe how education was imparted in GUI – being a community organization, everything at our Kampung [village] is built and maintained by volunteers which led to a high sense of ownership among members on top of a sense of giving back. Learning of skills is through an informal system of apprenticeship where for example GUI members knowledgeable in cooking, farming and craft pass on their learning to volunteers as they do projects together which emphasizes peer-to-peer and grounded education rather than top-down teaching. Volunteerism, Apprenticeship and Entrepreneurship are nothing but a way for us to decode how an ideal character based education should be through our inspiration from and experience at GUI.

Amrullah: It is easy to think that these three methods of education are as sexy and cool to the ears, but we knew how we got involved in the first place. I started volunteering for Ground-Up Initiative, then I began apprenticing and learning from mentors within GUI such as Chris, Ibnur, Veera, Xu Hong, Lai Hock. Finally I embarked on the same entrepreneurial journey as [my peers] Ibnur and Veera to see how we can get our products out to the market. Essentially, the model solved for me and I believe there are many more people like me.


CF: What did you learn from the competition experience that you would like to share with other participants?

IGNITE: First and foremost, be honest and sincere in your idea. You must really believe that your idea can impact the society that you hope to serve.  Don't focus on the prize or on winning. Focus on moving people with the sincerity of your vision. Facts and figures don’t move people, emotions do.  Secondly, one can get carried in the world of social media to have hundreds of people whom they call 'friends', but there are major differences in the friends you make online and one that is offline. We shared stories, tears, and ideas that made our worlds overlap one another and that is what true friendship meant to me.  Lastly, be open to criticism and advice. Our solution got the stage it is in only because of constant iteration after listening to the advice and wisdom from our mentors like Lai Hock, Veera, Ibnur and Huei Ming.

CF: What is next for each of you - any exciting plans for the future?

Siddharth: As I finish my final year in National University of Singapore, I am devoting more time to Volunteering at GUI and being an Apprentice at the Sustainable Living Lab and WOW Kampung to hone my leadership, engineering and training skills. I will be dedicating the next few months to testing projects like the Solar Chilli Dryer and Vegetable Lathe for children through which I hope to raise these social enterprises to the next level or set up my own enterprise under the GUI ecosystem. Seems, like I am practically testing our IGNITE model J

Melanie: I will be exploring ways to illustrate sociology / political science readings for my professors. I will also possibly enter more interesting competitions overseas. But most likely, I will be illustrating alternate realities with dragons and cute foxes.

Amrullah: When I talk to people about Ground-Up Initiave, it becomes so hard to tell people about the beauty of our physical space. Three of us can relate to the place well but it becomes difficult to describe the space to an outsider. So I will be embarking on one of my craziest experiment that I have my crosshair on: GyoPath. Unlike Google's streetview, GyoPath aims to map indoor places and capture the human connection that exists within such places. I have mapped a portion of my college, Yale-NUS College, and I have set my sights to map every indoor space in Singapore by June 2014. Go

CF: Thank you Melanie, Sid, and Amrullah.  The whole community is excited to see how you will continue to practice and share your vision and this journey toward your Dream Job!

Check back later this week for interviews with our two other winning teams, Good Riddance and Achievement 2022.

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Shahzaman Murtaza  Khuhro

Shahzaman Murtaza Khuhro | Action team

The future of education belongs to the youth and I am sure we can create a great impact

14th November, 2013 @ 4:56 PM CEST

Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Well Done Team!!!!!!!!!!!
u proved yourself , the best................!

and thnx Hely to publish such a great piece of writing!!!

19th November, 2013 @ 9:11 AM CEST

Vesna Đukanović

Vesna Đukanović

Hayley Lapalme, you are great writer! :)

26th November, 2013 @ 12:54 PM CEST

yagnesh purohit

yagnesh purohit


18th December, 2013 @ 2:47 PM CEST

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