In this episode, The Future of Education, Amy Edelstein explores a visionary approach to teacher training. If we are to truly inspire teachers and students to engage with their own learning in an innovative and even prophetic way, the training grounds that prepare teachers to teach must exemplify that new world and its higher values. Far too many people are concerned about how AI and Augmented Virtual Reality might subvert learning and far too few are imagining the frontiers that can be created in a virtual reality training ground, where the context is of engaged learning that rests on and fosters our higher human development. From Socratic dialogue, to libraries of Alexandria, to the Buddha's monastic university at Nalanda, we have rare examples of education that went broad and deep, and fostered amazing breakthroughs in philosophy, ethics, mathematics, science, literature, theater, art, and more.Support the show
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Welcome to the Conscious Classroom Podcast, where we're exploring tools and perspectives that support educators and anyone who works with teens to create more conscious, supportive and enriching learning environments. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein, and I'll be sharing transformative insights and easy to implement classroom supports.
That are all drawn from mindful awareness and systems thinking. The themes we'll discuss are designed to improve your own joy and fulfillment in your work and increase your impact on the world we share. Let's get on with this next episode.
Hello and welcome to the Conscious Classroom Podcast. My name is Amy Edelstein. Today I want to talk about the purpose of education and the future of education in this time where augmented reality, virtual reality. Metaverse, education, artificial intelligence, smart bots, are all becoming common in our day to day usage in ways that were just unimaginable just a few decades ago.
It's time to really rethink. education. Our education models haven't changed significantly since the days when we were preparing young people to go into factories and shift work. The work of our future is not the world of factories and shift work. The world of our future requires individuals to be able to think creatively, to solve systems wide problems, and to really Lean into the qualities of care and support and love and evolution of the human spirit.
You can think about the times of the Greeks or in Alexandria, Egypt, or in the great university of Nalanda. In North India and other places around the world, when you think of those bastions of learning and discovery, of innovation in medicine, science, math, astronomy, building, architecture, Language, the written word, philosophy, organization of peoples and towns and cities and governance.
You think of a world where those who were privileged and able to study were engaged with a knowledge that had to do with the higher capacities of the human spirit. And what that would look like translated onto earth. So whether it was those architects who built the unimaginable temples of Luxor on the Nile, where we still, to this day, don't understand how they were able to move and carve those massive blocks of stone with such detail that lasted thousands and thousands of years.
That weathered the elements and only really started to show signs of more serious color fading and erosion when the toxic chemicals of pollution started to hit.
The architects then were trying to build for the gods. And so they let their imagination soar in order to create something that was so awe inspiring. So moving, so ennobling, that when you walked through those porticos and hallways and looked up to the tops of these huge columns, you felt the enormity of a power and an order greater than the individual.
Our education now Our education of the future for it to be successful rests on rekindling not just the desire to break limits but the desire to evoke in the human heart the noble, the sacred, the ineffable, the mystery, the grandeur. And the sanctity of life and of the rhythms of the cosmos. In a time where we can know so much, where we can know pretty much at our fingertips almost anything we want to find out, whether we ask chat GPT or we Google it, facts are accessible.
in a way never before. But aspiration, ennoblement, seems to be more and more elusive.
When we talk about the education of the future, we want to envision an education that takes into account the present, With all its limitations and creates an environment where we can train teachers to better respond. And now we actually have shortcuts with the metaverse, with augmented reality. We have shortcuts to create those environmental, those educational environments.
And we'll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.
We want to create those training grounds for teachers that are thrilling, so filled with opportunities for vision and creativity and that use, call upon the new technologies to provide these cultured environments, crafted environments, so we can learn in the way we want to learn and collaborate.
beyond borders and identify those other brilliant minds and open hearts that are thinking the way we are. That's the teacher training ground of the future. When I think about a training ground for teachers. How are we going to entice and prepare individuals to go into our school system and educate in a way that is not an incremental improvement, but a punctuated leap, a discontinuous leap into a higher order of teaching and learning.
and vision and caring. I really do see the new technologies as a place where we can build those learning grounds for the teachers of the future. One of the big issues and gaps we see in our public school system in America is the lack of cultural competency, where our teachers don't share the background of the students in public schools.
Many in urban areas come from under resourced families, under resourced neighborhoods, under resourced primary schools, and have not and are often students of color, new immigrants, or those that, that have come from marginalized sectors. of our society. What they desperately want are teachers who are relatable to them, teachers who look like them.
Unfortunately, the funnel of teachers doesn't necessarily pull from students who look like them. college students who look like them. So how are we going to get there? Because to pull from students who look like these marginalized populations, you also have to create a training ground for young teachers that feels culturally relevant.
Comfortable to learn, comfortable to explore. So we can build that in the metaverse. We can build spaces for teacher trainees of color, teacher trainees who are first generation, teacher trainees who come from under resourced schools and neighborhoods and families.
We can shift the cultural narrative without waiting for decades to do that. We can shift the cultural narrative and populate it because we can draw from individuals from a distance and we can enable access through simple technology. When we can do that, we can train and we can also train teachers in that environment who come from the dominant aspects of American society, who come from the privileged sector
and allow them to discover a different perspective. to see through their students eyes, to be in environments that, where the student's background is the defining cultural narrative. And that can shift the vision of the next generation of teachers in a way that can develop greater bridges to young people, better learning, better teaching, more empathy, crossing the divide.
We don't have to wait for decades or generations. For things for cultures to mix more broadly, we can create that through our virtual capacities now. And that can be a game changer for young students and it can be an attractor for young teachers.
Now the other thing we want to look at when we're training teachers for the future is a real systems view, not a subject matter excellence. But like the, learning, the philosophical inquiry of ancient Greece, where the whole of life was explored, where geometry and mathematics and philosophy and ethics and dialogue.
And civic service, governance, we're all one because they do all interrelate. So training for a holistic view, for excellence and innovation, for discovery and focus, for mental and emotional well being, for physical health, for environmental health and being, ecological stability,
waste management. care for the planet and its creatures, recognition of the interconnectedness of life. We can build those curricula. We can build the offshoots and we can build with our new technologies. We can provide that central context of the in the interconnectedness of all things, of the way that our Moral, ethical, spiritual, and educational well being is inextricably interlinked with our mental, emotional health, with our relatedness to the planet and its living creatures.
We can start creating a systems view. And when our teachers awaken to the system's view. They can teach from that view and when they teach from that view, students start to see that whether their entry road is the geometry that built great temples in Egypt or their entry point is of nutrition and and health, whether their entry point is cultural competence and history, whether their entry point is coding, they recognize that a framework of holistic wellness.
guides their success in all of their endeavors.
Teachers need to be taught to find simple ways to teach systems thinking. You can ask students now, what's the system of your life? Draw lots of intersecting circles. That make up your life. They're your parents. There's the food you eat. They're your siblings and relatives. There's school. There's the transportation that takes you to school.
They're your friends. There's the music you listen to. They're the books that you read. They're the pets that you play with in the parks where you walk your pets. All the intersecting circles that make up your life. Then you can get students to step back. What are all the intersecting circles of the system of a school?
What are the intersecting circles of the system of your country? What are the intersecting circles of the system of the planet?
Students of all ages can do that. They just, those systems start to get more and more complex. The interrelatedness becomes more and more apparent. And then education of the future will start focusing on the communication between different intersecting circles. The relationship. between the different parts of the system and the ability to change one of the outer spheres in a system and have it trickle down and make a huge difference.
So if we changed the sphere of school lunches instead of pre packaged food that's heated up or microwaved, fresh vegetables, and foods that are prepared By students and chefs in school, providing better nutrition, edgy nutritious nutrition, education, cooking skills, technical skills. And an environment that feels more like home would have a profound influence on a student's experience of the lunchroom.
So we could change that upstream system. Now we might not be able to do that, but students can envision that and see and map the downstream trickle. So this future of education. Needs to find ways to teach our profound interconnectedness in the way that shifts and change and evolution and transformation and improvement and greater care in one level affects all parts of the system.
And so not everything, not every part of the system will be affected positively. If we move from, for example, using the same example, if we move from packaged foods to home cooked foods on campus in each of the public schools, then the profits for the corporations that package and ship those pre packaged foods.
Listen, the profits of the chemical makers that make preservatives so the food can be prepackaged and shipped without spoilage listen, there are going to be tradeoffs. Some people won't be happy about that. In a system, you want to look at the health and well being of the whole system. And where there's negative impact, then there's going to have to be diverting of resources or focus.
to do something that is constructive. Students can begin to engage with that. That's the preparation for the future. Our world is getting smaller. One, in part, because we have so many more people than ever before. Our planet is simply crowded with humans,
so we have to find ways to live differently, to live together, find ways to create connection, community, and love and worship that meets our times.
And this can be done when teachers start seeing their role as one of leaders of our society. Because teachers are the ones who are preparing the next generation. And if that next generation isn't prepared with creativity and an open heart, our future doesn't look so great.
Elevating our teachers to that role of revered. Mentor, sage, expecting of our teachers, not just to be nurses and psychologists and social workers and security guards. But expecting of our teachers to be able to peer into the creativity of the young people in front of them and the future, so thirsty for that creativity and to find the perfect combination of academic fertilizer, water.
and cultivate that creativity, allow students to cultivate each other's creativity, then we're in a different world. We're not in the world designed to prepare and train obedient shift workers in a factory to put together mechanical parts of an automobile or a ceiling fan. That's going to be done by automation, machines, more and more as we move forward.
But the human component, that component that can be doubly wise, homo sapien, that can pay attention to the spiritual care for the entire planet and its chain of creatures from single celled organisms and plankton and algae all the way up, that requires human teachers. And that requires human teachers that are not stunted and limited by our current cultural context, but who can build training grounds where the cultural context can be what we want it to be in the future, now, in the present.
So let's use this moment in time. Let's use this beginning of augmented reality, of virtual reality, of metaverse education to really build the bastions of learning that take in all of the best of learning environments over the millennia that human beings have been studying and couple it with that sense of urgency to build.
a society that is founded on an ethical compass, a secular moral compass that has well being and compassion and love at its core,
that can pull on self reflective practices and tools from all traditions, that can redefine and redesign quickly, beta testing, prototyping, and working together to walk through the limitations that have kept us in an educational environment that is just ill adapted to our times and to the needs of the future.
Our teachers are thirsty for that exploration of the unknown. Our students are thirsty to learn from adults who are open to discovery. And free to cultivate that in their classrooms.
And our classrooms are ready for a very different design and structure.
So critical to do this now, before we lose another generation because of the tedium, the dullness, the lack of relevance of the way our current education systems by and large are working. There's tremendous unprecedented potential in these times. And yet we feel the wisdom of the ages slipping through our fingers.
So let's lean in, technologists, teachers, visionaries, and cultivate learning environments for the future that attract open hearts and open minds. And teachers who can really become the wise stewards of the next generation of leaders. And let's attract those visionary superintendents who are ready to reshape their school districts into ones that aren't just mitigating against the threat of our future, of climate change, of extreme weather, of gun violence, of racial tension.
Of totalitarianism, and populism, and fear, and economic divide, and hunger, and addiction. There are real problems. Bearing in, especially on our most marginalized friends, colleagues, students. So it is time to take a leap, and it's not really a leap of faith, it's a leap of urgency and care to redesign the educational structures that train our teachers radically, not just piecemeal, and redesign the learning.
environments, because everything else is being redesigned in our world right now. Our world is changing so very fast. So let's embrace that with all its possibility, all its potential, and really create the world that we want to see. And in that world, we're creating a future for the next generation, for the students that we're with right now, and for the students that they'll have in the future.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. If you are a visionary educator and you are planning some pretty out of the box solutions do connect with me. I'd love to have a deeper conversation with you. Till next time.
Thank you for listening to The Conscious Classroom. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend and pass the love on. See you next time.