On Monday I got the opportunity to speak at Pakhuis de Zwijger about how we at the Stars Are Circular foundation talk with kids about the behavior needed in a Circular City. I got 5 minutes. Here’s my story.
Decisions are made by people and what you think of your own abilities and where you set the boundaries of your responsibilities will always influence the decisions you make.
At Stars Are Circular our mission is to Empower Kids to Be Circular Stars. We work together with schools, entrepreneurs, companies and municipalities to introduce kids with the circular economy: one adventure at a time.
With our Expedition Circular programs we learn by doing. With workshops, project weeks and perhaps a festival later this year, we offer kids and their families an educational adventure and at the same time develop learning resources that we want to share at sCoolMakers. Our wish is to start Circular Stars Clubs on location, where kids can learn with and from each other.
How do you talk to children about the behavior associated with the circular city? By explaining what circularity means: using goods, materials and raw materials wisely, using green energy, leaving a clean world without waste and pollution and working together. We tell the story at one of the mini food forests of Amstergaard, a neighborhood initiative here in Amsterdam or dressed as a spider on stage in a school singing a song about Mother Nature. By learning in an exploratory way with the help of one of our lesson plans and visiting a circular companies.
The great thing about the circular economy is that it doesn’t only highlight the problems of our earth, but also talks about solutions. We like to search with kids for circular applications in the field of food, clothing and housing, themes that we encounter every day, even as a child. We like to keep it playful. They work on challenges and compete for an award at the end of the program. Being able to earn karma points is always a hit: what goes around comes around!
Why introduce these two difficult words to children as young as 6 years old? Economy? Circular? I hope that this is the start of a broader thinking, a thinking in together, a thinking in more possibilities. What is this around us? What do we live in? What are we part of? You don’t have to remember it exactly as a 6 year old, not even as a 13 year old. But I think we should be able to talk to children a little more often and earlier about living together, society and economy. It’s good to get a grasp of the fact that every choice we make, every day, is an economic choice with many invisible threads that connect you with other people, nearby and far.
On this evening the question is asked who should play which role. Whether you are the CEO of a company, an alderman, inventor, construction worker or farmer. You are for now and forever: yourself. Decisions are made by people and what you think of your own abilities and where you set the boundaries of your responsibilities will always influence the decisions you make, alone or in a group.
As important as the concept of circularity, I find learning the principles and skills related to Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Critical thinking. The 4 C’s of 21st century learning, common threads throughout our programs. We translated this to Play, Create, Share, Change, our values. If you continue to work on these skills, you will continue to be able to make a positive contribution on the road to the Circular Economy. Also when in 2050 — the year we want to be 100% circular — , as a 13 year old now you are 43 years. You have completed your education, do work that you enjoy and may have children of your own. I hope that because you already learn what circularity means, you take it into account in every decision, in every role.