Posts Tagged “informal education”

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by the heading of this post.  I’m good at finding problems!  But Problem Finding isn’t about complaining.

Ewan McIntosh spoke at TEDx London in September about re-framing the way learners engage with problems.

Currently, the world’s education systems are crazy about problem-based learning, but they’re obsessed with the wrong bit of it. While everyone looks at how we could help young people become better problem-solvers, we’re not thinking how we could create a generation of problem finders.

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Learning doesn’t only happen in school.  Young people learn in many contexts and it seems to me that Problem Finding seems to me to be at the heart of informal education.  It’s Friere’s ‘conscientization’, naming your world and taking action to change it.

Problem Finding changes the focus.  Using the ‘design process’ Ewan shows that ‘teachers’ traditionally do all the hard work at the start of the process in the ‘understand’ and ‘observe’ phases. design process

Answering a question no one is asking is a charge that has been levelled at the church for too long.  That’s because we do the first two stages of the ‘design process’ for people.  The church ‘understands’ and ‘observes’ the world and then frames a worldview and presents it to people rather than enabling people to ‘name’ their world and then engage with them, bringing the rich resources of two thousand years of thought to support that exploration.

In worship we (and I’m talking about me too) deliver lectures to people every Sunday about things they have no input into, and probably little interest in!

In youth work we too often assume that drugs and sex are the most important things in a 15 year old’s life.  They well might be for some but our response is too often to tell them what they should think about that.

How about something different?

In the classrooms in which I work, students explore the twenty or so themes upon which our planet really depends, immerse themselves in the ideas and information their teachers, peers and whole communities can impart, find the problems they feel are worth solving, theorise which ones will work and then try them out in a prototype. In their world, we don’t just write an essay or create yet another wiki or blog to describe what our idea is, but we actually build the solution to the problem with our own hands

Ewan McIntosh

Problem Finding means letting go of our agendas, of our issues and our priorities and engaging young people in exploring and engaging with their world by naming their problems and working to find their solutions.

Youth work has to be about resourcing that journey.  Church has to be about resourcing that journey.

I’m really interested in applying ‘Problem Finding’ and ‘design thinking’ to youth work.  What do you think?

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Leaning and Teaching Scotland have just announced what they think the markers fo excellence in literacy are for the 21st century… and the definition of texts is:novels, short stories, plays, poems, reference texts, the spoken word, charts, maps, graphs and timetables, advertisements, promotional leaflets, comics, newspapers and magazines, CVs, letters and e-mails, films, games and TV programmes, labels, signs and posters, recipes, manuals and instructions, reports and reviews, text messages, blogs and social networking sites, web pages, catalogues and directories. (emphasis added) (ht Ewan)

So, what will that mean for youth work in the 21st century?  Informal educators inhabit the world their ‘clients’ live in.  We meet people ‘where they are at.  How do you think that Christian youth work will engage with this generation of digital natives?  And will banning youth workers from texting, instant messaging and Bebo really turn out to be a good idea?

Any thoughts?

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If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I’m doing a masters in research.  I’ve come to the point where I need to decide what I’m going to research!

Any ideas?  I was thinking something to do with church youth work and technology use.  Would that be helpful?  Does anyone care?  What would be the point of knowing if and how churches use technology in their informal education with young people?

Any help gratefully received!!!

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