If we gave you a time machine to go back to your school days, what would you change?
Questions like this one were what we asked a room of 100+ people at the latest SoGal Ottawa event, 75% of whom were women-identifying. With a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and funding, we knew that we had to discuss the future of work, how entrepreneurship fits in this future, and the role education plays in the grander scheme of things.
To facilitate this conversation, we invited local social entrepreneur, disruptor and change-maker, Shauna Pollock, founder of Blue Sky School. Shauna shared her story and engaged in conversations about the design of her experimental school. Her message was clear: if we want change, we need to get involved with the educational systems that youth are being exposed to.
Shauna’s proposition couldn’t have been made for a more ideal audience: only 20% of the audience had experiences as teachers or served as current executives of schools boards, with the other 80% having little to no experience in education design. However, as founders, entrepreneurs and creatives, this majority connected with Shauna’s entrepreneurial approach to education. This 80% was living proof of the narrative we’re all so familiar with: their formal education was significantly different to the role they have today.
Another part of the event’s discussion was around how we teach youth: having them in classrooms for 6 hours a day. With this in mind, we knew we had to include creative, impactful activities — what Steffi Retzlaff calls ‘intentional play’. A recognized facilitator and educational specialist, Steffi led two activities that furthered the conversation on learning through the transference of leadership.
As we turned the mic over to the audience, the room was electric with anecdotes and suggestions about how the education system could be better designed to understand individualism and creativity, and to support entrepreneurship.
- Democratizing access to quality education to young people in marginalized communities;
- Accommodating to ‘other’ types of learning — i.e. not sitting in a classroom for 6 hours a day;
- Creating cross-sectional learning so that learning occurs across-the-board instead of hierarchal in a classroom.
Entrepreneurship is going to be one of the major drivers of the gig economy and the future of work, especially as technology continues to advance systems and disrupt industries. Education will be one of these destabilized industries, so it is imperative that the dialogue begins now, as we look into the future. By doing this, we become predictive instead of prescriptive.
This will remain our goal with SoGal Ottawa: fostering dialogue on advancing creativity and entrepreneurship, and exploring what inclusion looks like in these spaces.
Shoutout to awesome venue sponsor, Rebel.com!
Watch our video recap below:
Co-authored by Nickie Shobeiry