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Kyra Gaunt

Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Assoc.Professor, Kyraocity Works

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Real Freedom in Higher Education (Fueling Productivity with Passion & Greatness)

I have been teaching for over 15 years and students rarely walk into the classroom engaged and addicted to study. Worse, they rarely leave their college experience that way. I am on a mission to empower 100,000 students from around the world to be thought leaders as consumers of their own productivity.

On February 11, 2011 I spoke at the opening ceremony of ISFiT 2011, the International Student Festival in Trondheim. It is the largest student run festival in the world. As I write this, there are 525 participants from over 110 countries. We had Hans Rosling speak two nights ago.

I spoke to them about a revolutionary shift in their thinking as world leaders. There is nothing to do to be great. You are already great if you were born human. No need to wait to be great citizens, "future" professionals and great human beings as many institutional missions charge. Learning begins with freedom, thrives in not-knowing, and is built on a world that works for all (creating social equities are center of the human project of education). So if one student fails, the professor fails.

What would if be like if the classroom was a playful learning environment where mistakes mattered as part of our growth and learning? Where the source of learning was not books but people? Where professors were lit up and students-as-adults followed their dream

I work with large groups of 30 - 1000 and need you to design your school's solutions. Join me http://eepurl.com/cxTkA

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    Mar 15 2011: You might want to check this, it's a 1929 essay (in French) by Denis de Rougement (revisited in 1971) : The misdeeds of Public Instruction (Les méfaits de l'instruction publique). This is a 1973 interview on Swiss TV: http://bit.ly/eJGhZb
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    Mar 15 2011: Dear Kyra, thank you for having started this dialogue. As an educator, I am always hoping to meet people like you for inspiration and to make me feel that I am not alone in places where my way may easily be the "way-out-there" type of way. I have recently joined JiLiang University in Xiasha, Higher Education Zone of Hangzhou, in China. I have also taught in the Middle East for four years. Here in China I teach Business English to International Trade and Marketing majors, Chinese students in third year of their studies who haven't had any work experience what-so-ever. In China, the culture of learning is very different than what you talk about - it's the old traditional spoon-fed education which kills creativity and makes the young minds dull and passive. I have decided to start a little project for and with my students called "International Business Society" in which students get a chance to participate in different events from being part of the organizing team to simply being an audience to the many events we want to put together including attending TEDx events in Hangzhou for learning new things and for networking. These kids crave for things that are different, cool and exciting, events that make them think and challenge them. The goal is to have the students experience practically what the business books teach them... While they DO it, the direct experience of the business "theory" expressed in English will become part of their lives.
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    Mar 14 2011: Let me start by saying that I am no expert of this field, so my comment will be based on my experience as a student and what I now believe would have helped me.

    I think the key of teaching is motivation. Kids, and adults, can be motivated in many different ways. Yes, playing is a way of motivation, also using colors, sounds, videos, magic.

    I also think that smaller class allow teachers to connect better with kids and to identify what motivates them.
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    Mar 10 2011: Might wanna check out following links:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91TfXsmW_aA&feature=player_embedded
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kNLCP0_uVHQ#at=293

    A Sudbury school is a school that practices a form of democratic education in which students individually decide what to do with their time, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than adopting a descriptive educational syllabus or standardized instruction by classes following a prescriptive curriculum. Students have complete responsibility for their own education and the school is run by direct democracy in which students and staff are equals.

    This kind of edcuation would also be possible in higher edcuation. A similar education would be something like mine, the Imaginheroes. At the moment I'm studying @ The Imaginheroes (bachelor) and there are a few competences we must achieve. Marketing, Project management, Imagineering (writing new innovative concepts), research and facilitating (facilitate conversations and creative sessions).

    As an Imaginhero you constantly move to new terrains, which means you must learn to make choices about your personal and professional role. You'll learn to take leadership regarding your own development and to pursue your dreams. Everyone has a personal coach who helps you in finding your dreams and then it's up to you to realize them.

    The program is a 100% custom made, which means that in addition to these previous stated competences (marketing, imagineering etc.), we can make our own choices about what we want to learn.

    We get to choose for ourselves how to fill in and so achieve those competences. For instance this year I've been researching Social Entrepreneurship and found that social entrepreneurship has four different levels. Only because I was interested certain aspects of social entrepreneurship.

    I'm convinced that people learn more when they get to choose their own subjects and so create their own box.

    Thanks for reading!
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    Mar 10 2011: The problem is that in most Western countries, there is jail-time for people who want free education. That's why I moved to Africa, to experiment with freedom.

    So I co-founded and became a professor at Green College Africa - an environmental academy where everybody's welcome, no matter his age or grade. Kids and adults are mixed. We talk and do stuff. We decide our own curriculum as we play and teach each other. Classes create themselves, by negotiation and discussion. Around ages, and themes. There's no system of scores. There's only social control - which works much better than scores.

    The model is highly "inefficient" in classic pedagogical terms. But highly productive in creative solutions to real world problems, and highly dynamic; as curricula and classes create themselves by students themselves.

    The only guiding principle of our unique college is this: let's design our world in such a way that the greatest number of people benefits from nature's resources for the longest time possible.
  • Mar 9 2011: Hi Kyra,

    I'm also looking for innovative teaching practices to engage my students and have found two that are quite effective. They are not an official model, but suggestions that you may incorporate into your model.

    Although my courses are listed as "text based" (traditional textbooks), I've expanded my schedule to include oral and visual texts. Student responses are positive. They feel more in touch with visual and oral texts than written ones, and these texts seem to encourage a level of creativity that written texts do not. I also have student-choice major assignments, which gives students more options and control of the learning experience. Granted, this option gives me more work as I find myself reading or viewing my students' choices, but they are so much more engaged than when I hand them an assignment. I hope these suggestions are helpful.
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    Mar 9 2011: Kyra, this is a wonderful topic that I am quite passionate about. We are lucky because there are already models out there! I've been to six colleges and universities, and thus have much first hand experience with what is working and what isn't in higher ed. You absolutely must check out Goddard College, www.goddard.edu

    They are the most supportive and the least restrictive institution of higher education that I have been a part of, and from what I can tell from research, exists. Goddard provides a complex structure designed to maximize freedom. If interested we can talk more about it. Best of luck.