‘Vivendo Discimus’ – By Living We Learn.
Patrick Geddes’ above exhortation would hold good eternally since, it is only those who believe that the process of education is omnipresent and never-ending, that are the ones who are continuously evolving.
While the words student and learner are often used interchangeably, learners alludes to not only those learning through academics but through different experiences- chosen and otherwise.
Being in the business of outside-the-classroom learning for the last 17 years, we have witnessed creativity and innovation of different kinds – creativity of learners, teachers, employees and employers too. Creative thinking certainly is a large part of the recipe for success; whatever success means to different people.
In our organisation, Ethos, the end products we work towards are creative solutions and learning aids in the field of architecture, construction, engineering – both online and offline. We identify problems that exist in the field and work towards providing creative solutions.
The Lifelong Learner
Geddes, a strong believer in creative education and as one who hated the system of learning by rote, was associated with the setting up of Santiniketan, the ultimate laboratory in experimental education. His correspondence with Rabindranath Tagore voices his opinions on the need for the development of free-thinking, developing an analytical mind and spiritual development through the process of education.
While our education system in India largely works like a cookie cutter, each cookie has its own golden hue and texture. We find that although a class is exposed to largely similar lessons, the learning is different for every learner.
Learning can be enhanced by creative thinking- interpretation, observation, discussion, further research, learning-by-doing, extending the learning to outside-the-classroom and so much more. Hence the lessons one learns are different from the lessons that one is taught and herein lies the difference between what one is and what one can be.
Those who bridge that gap do have remarkable qualities about them, perseverance also being one. Most of them are like the proverbial spider that inspired the King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce. They may fail but do not give up. Scientists studying neuroplasticity believe that it is possible for a brain to get rewired by repetitive activity. And hence like Aristotle once said – We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit; And it is possible to acquire many such winning habits – however one defines winning.
Valuable lessons are not taught only in classrooms; parents, friends, the old man on the street, the vegetable vendor could also be teachers. A creative learner spots them and makes the most of their teachings. While these could be lessons on life in general, do not miss out on the enlightenment on your own profession- remember this is usually the largest customer base for most products.
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
Role of the Creative Teacher
A teacher is not necessarily only by qualification; teachers lurk everywhere if only we chose to recognize them. Creative teachers are a rare commodity but not totally missing. They could be infectious and motivate others to adopt interesting teaching methods as well. Sometimes a creative learner could set off the spark in a teacher to experiment.
Creative ways of teaching bring life to learning and make learning for life. A survey that we carried out a few years ago on understanding effectiveness in teaching had most of our respondents recalling teachers who took pains to innovate in their teaching methods. One faculty member, in fact, mentioned that the biggest asset that a college of architecture could have is a bus; so that students could be taught at various architectural and construction sites.
Learning to work as an innovative Employee
In the rat race to meet deadlines and targets- one often sticks to the mundane, little realising that being innovative would rake in a triple-fold advantage – getting work done with alacrity; increasing the possibility to meet goals and getting recognised. The advantages of exploring “The Road Less Taken” cannot be emphasized enough. The road to exploring creative solutions nurtures emotional intelligence and personal enhancement. An employee who breaks the stereotype is making the statement- ‘I am different and I am willing to take risks and go that extra mile for my organisation.”
All firms may not foster the creative freedom an employee needs to flourish and unfortunately may not see value in allowing for this. Hence it is important for one who is applying for a position to not get enamoured by the popularity of the firms but to research the philosophy and work environment before zeroing in on firms to apply to.
Fostering creative awakening within Organisations
In today’s time, all organisations need to continuously adapt to the changing milieu, in order to even stay relevant; let alone meet goals. In this scenario that is highly demanding on performance, organizations need to learn to do more with less resources- human, material or time. The well-being of an organization depends on the well-being of its employees. Encouraging and engaging in creative thinking makes room for discussion, debates, research to support arguments and thereby fosters a creative awakening. When an organisation encourages free-thinking, it is also telling the team and the individual – “We trust you!” This helps strengthen the bond within.
Driving Learning through Creativity
Ten things we practice at work, which may be useful to share here are
- At Ethos, we believe in the adage “Change is the only constant.” and our team is on its toes trying to keep pace with today. It is not uncommon for us to, therefore, enrol in mini-courses to enhance our skills towards this end.
- We have chosen to be a virtual office to be able to accommodate our need of different role players panning our country.
- We document processes and video record discussions and even create mini-learning modules internally for newcomers to slip into their roles with ease and to ensure conformity.
- We bring practising professionals to the e-classroom and learners get to hear about the realities of different kinds of practices.
- We present a level playing field by making learning accessible to learners even in remote areas using technology.
- We also make sure to incorporate the element of fun in order to be able to hold the attention of our audience.
- Our events and competitions are curated with imagination after a careful understanding that is constantly updated on the gaps to be bridged.
- We do add a competitive edge to our initiatives for learners to realise that the world is their oyster and also to help them raise the bar with each activity that they engage with.
- Hence what we create not only needs to be creative but also needs to foster creativity in our learners. And this challenge is what galvanizes us in our everyday tasks at work.
- We certainly are learning while living and teaching too for the joy of learning.
Learning is a journey and runs alongside life. When this learning is coupled with innovation and creativity in all the roles we play, this journey becomes a celebration.
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