“I want to do something I am interested in. I want to pursue my passions and live happily.” Quiia Cheng (17)

“China is getting rich now. But if you look at the picture more closely, you’ll see that China is very unequal. So – how do we make society more equal? How do we divide the cake? It’s up to my generation to think about these things. Minghao He (19)

Students often have a way of expressing simple yet profound truths about what we all want from our lives – and what is fair. Education has to connect more closely to students’ aspirations and what communities need to flourish. In some communities that is happening in an innovative and uplifting manner.

Learning a Living: Radical Innovation in Education For Work is a wonderful book showcasing what communities are doing successfully to improve ‘the relationship between education, innovation, work and the workforce.’ The chapter headings illustrate the thinking demonstrated by those innovators leading these projects. For example, waking up to a new world; the bigger picture; the next frontier; the whole picture; and, the title, learning a living are good examples of this optimism. 

Fifteen case studies, from countries as diverse as India and Finland or Bangladesh and Germany, highlight how learning can be successfully re-imagined to suit the context of the individual within the community they live. It is not the case that one can read a case study and think, yes, that’s what we should do here! What works for a community in rural Brazil is unlikely to translate to the urban context you work and live in. However, it certainly is food for thought to see how some are re-imagining learning and promoting positive values.

I learnt many interesting facts from the data in the book that demonstrate how sustaining and creating opportunity for all, especially in regards to life long learning and nurturing our youngest citizens, ensures the potential health of the whole community. It also is more likely to lead to every community having the skill sets needed to prosper. For example:

  • 84% of apprentices in Finland are over 25 years of age and it is not uncommon for someone to commence an apprenticeship in their 50s.
  • Africa’s one billion people use only 4% of the world’s electricity and cannot afford to charge a computer, even if supplied with it free. However, half the population own a mobile phone. This is leading to a realisation that learning delivered to a mobile device is more likely to be both accessible and sustainable.
  • 34% of employers worldwide say they are having problems recruiting skilled workers but paradoxically, graduation from traditional schools and universities has never been higher.

Unfortunately, from my POV, there is only one disappointment to be experienced by reading the book. There are no case studies from Australia. Does anyone know of an Australian case study that could be included?

I was lucky enough to be lent a copy of this great book. You can pre-order it here.

BTW I particularly enjoyed the images photographed by Reza, a photojournalist. I’d recommend the book for that reason alone!

Featured image source


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