Reimagining education in this historic time of change

Words: Laura Hay | Edits: Mohsin Mohi Ud Din

There is a global movement taking place and it starts with a question: ‘What is the purpose of school?’

All around the world, we have been discovering and collaborating with schools whose educators and students are reimagining the purpose and goals of education. Their vision? To empower young people to create a better world by mastering empathy and identifying as changemakers.

The key factor for success for every community — be it a company, a city or a country — is the proportion of its population who are changemakers. A collective ability to address complex social problems — and to anticipate future ones — is paramount to positively shaping our world.

It may seem a distant possibility, but the drive to reimagine education is happening all around us, especially within the #ChangemakerEd community. More and more teachers are focusing on giving young people the knowledge, skills, and sense of purpose to thrive in an interconnected world and drive positive change in their communities. Why? Because the #ChangemakerEd network sees young changemakers as the unsung heroes of our time, and as vital carriers of the creativity, innovation and hope needed to navigate today’s world of accelerating change.

“I was so impressed by my students. Especially the little ones. They had so many ideas. They wanted to engage, they wanted to collaborate, they loved to be creative, they loved to take responsibility with passion and joy. All they need is that we as adults believe in them, trust in them and give them many opportunities to act in the real world so they can feel ‘how I am important, how I can do something for the common good.’” — Margret Rasfeld, Ashoka Fellow, Founder of #ChangemakerEd School in Berlin, Germany

Changemaker Education

Changemaker Schools are part of a global community of innovative public, private, and charter institutions that are reimagining how young people grow up. These schools come in many shades, shapes and sizes, and have different philosophical and pedagogical approaches. Across an ocean of difference, they share a world in common: they all prioritize experiences that educate students to be empathetic, entrepreneurial, creative, and community-oriented leaders. Through innovations in school curricula, culture, and systems, #ChangemakerEd teachers and students are pioneering how education can cultivate an ecosystem of changemakers.

This means reframing the role of students, teachers, school leaders, families in designing authentic learning experiences that harmonize social, emotional and global competencies.

“I think it is important for students to know that they have the ability to change the world around them and to be able to embrace their ideas and passions. As educators it is our role to facilitate this type of learning and thinking. We can support our students with developing the skills they need to communicate effectively and propose solutions to questions and problems they care about. We must also challenge them to take ownership of their actions, passions and interest in their community. By doing this we can enable them to develop the changemaker mindset. As we do this we also want to keep in mind that the world our students are living in is much different from the one we grew up in and it’s ever changing. As educators we need to give them the power to embrace change for the positive.” — Mrs Petersen, CREC #ChangemakerEd District

Changemaking Skills

So what is a changemaker? In today’s historic period of accelerated change, being a changemaker is a lifelong way of seeing, thinking, and acting.

Changemaker Skills

Educators, parents and schools in the Ashoka network believe that the Changemaker framework of empathy, teamwork, leadership and creative-problem solving are just as important as literacy and numeracy. It is necessary to explicitly and systematically nurture the Changemaker framework in every young person so that they can be empowered and resilient enough to make life better for themselves and others.

“We make sure that every one of our students creates and leads their own projects that benefit the community…We look to develop changemaking skills in everything we do. We put young people in charge whenever we can. For us, a young person’s success is as much about their contribution to the community as it is about their academic attainment, but of course academic attainment almost always follows their development as a changemaker…”— Principal of #ChangemakerEd School 21 in London, UK
Watch one of the many schools in our #ChangemakerEd network, Changemaker High School in Tucson Arizona, USA

ARE YOU IN?

  1. Join the conversation by tagging your ideas and stories with both the hashtags: #ChangemakerEd #Back2School
  2. Explore Changemaker Schools in your area!
  3. If you are a teacher, school leader, parent, or student, contact us to bring #ChangemakerEd in your community: empathy@ashoka.org