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Case Wellantcollege Westvliet - new shoes today

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  • 1. 1 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEFRACTALS AND FLAVOURSWELLANTCOLLEGE WESTVLIETVariety for Successful EducationSociety is changing rapidly. Until recently the school system educated studentsto find their way in an industrial or service oriented, efficient and demandingsociety. Knowledge transfer and the development of skills were mainly focussedon preparing them to work in small and large organisations.These days many young people have new challenges to tackle. On the onehand they are confronted with a complex society with many social and eco-nomic structures, rules and regulations. But as the world is changing rapidlythey also have to learn how to create their own lives in a world of endless pos-sibilities. Both requirements should be part of the new educational conceptsand content.This story tells about teachers and managers of a technical and vocationalschool in The Hague who deeply recognise these new challenges and want tofundamentally change their educational methods. They strongly believe this isnecessary in order to enable their students to really create a meaningful rolefor themselves in future society, fully based on their own talents and drives.Such a person will be able to find or create a genuine place, organisation orposition that suits him/her best and where her/his added value is highest. It isa story of inspiration, co-creation and many, many experiments.Dancing with Rogie & CoWWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 2. 2 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEWellantcollege’s general manager Peter Kranendonk and education managerJos van Meegen initiated this project. They invited Rogie & Company, a dancegroup lead by Piet Rogie, to start up this innovation and change process. Heis known in the world of dance for being a choreographer who organicallycreates new performances together with his dancers.Piet and his dancers were invited to the school to show how they create a newchoreography and how every dancer has her own role in it, all equally impor-tant, but very different at the same time. Teachers were invited to take part inthis co-creation, to talk with the dancers, to deeply feel how this process works.This experience inspired them to experiment with openness for variety asthe main theme in their new educational concept. For six months, smallgroups of teachers and students started working and experimenting withdifferent kind of learning methods and different combinations of content.Finally they found out that they required a variety of methods to be able toteach all of the skills needed for the new world. They started experimentingon a broader scale. They had the students learn individually, in small groupsand in big groups, inside the school and outside. Together with the studentsthey decided what worked well and what didn’t. Step by step they experi-mented, creating a wide variety of tools, lessons and so on.Jos van Meegen explains: ‘These experiments eventually led to an educationalmethod that appeals to all different learning abilities, as is clarified in thefollowing box. One can develop knowledge along different lines. On theone hand, we can look at the world as being objective, tangible, and discov-erable through the senses. We can also look at the world as being subjective,designed from within, developed through one’s own approach, from ‘themeaning I give to my world.’ On the other axis you will find the student as theconsumer of this knowledge or as the producer of the learning process.’This then gives four boxes with different content, styles, environments andtools of learning.Teach: Traditional knowledge transfer, teacher to studentSearch: Student explores and experiments to gain objective knowledgeReflect: The teacher gives feedback on student’s talents and skillsQuest: Student (co-)creates own knowledge and meaningWWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 3. 3 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEThe Fractal OrganisationTo make it possible for this educational concept to work on a larger scale,Wellantcollege had to achieve two other things. The teachers had to trans-form themselves, by developing totally new skills, by finding out what theirhidden talents were and how to apply them, and by unlearning old andlearning new teaching habits. Secondly, the school needed a new organisa-tional structure that would fit this new educational method. Inspiration camethrough the study of fractals.A fractal is a geometrical shape that is irregular at each scale of magnification.Hence it is always different in an infinite variation. At the same time, thewhole consists of parts that repeat themselves at increasingly smaller scales.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 4. 4 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEThe particularity of fractals in geometry is that the shape of the parts is the sameas that of the whole. The parts only distinguish themselves in size and colour.Hence, the shape of the whole can be recognised in each of the parts andvice versa. New and other similar shapes are created in the whole. In nature,fractals are an organising phenomenon through which order and chaos cango hand in hand.The similarities between this school and fractals are the qualities of uniform-ity and maximum variety at the same time. Building a ‘fractalized’ institutioncould generate a fundamentally new dynamic, a new way of interacting witheach other and shaping the services offered.Peter Kranendonk and his management team decided to co-create everythingaround one basic form, with a fixed part and a varied part based on meaning.The organisation would then be shaped by interaction. Interaction aroundthis basic form would ‘define’ the way in which things were developed andevaluated, the content of the tasks and roles, internal and external commu-nication, the structure, the workplaces and the leadership style.These figures display the basic shape: a fixed base and a meaning-based vari-ation, which is in each part of the organisation and the dynamics of the whole.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 5. 5 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEFreedom to Experiment, Freedom to BuildThe Wellantcollege wanted each of its employees to act as freely as possi-ble. They defined a number of interconnecting values, not to control eachindividual’s activities but more as a kind of implicit frame of reference.The institution’s interconnecting values are: • Variety in every organisational aspect is a vital condition for this educational concept • Everyone fits in the whole in his/her own way • We create a culture of giving and sharing • Through dialogue we give meaning to our goals • We grow in consciousness by elucidating the choices we make in our workPeter and Jos decided to apply only a control-based management approachto the established minimum frameworks (the fixed base). For the rest, theytrust in the autonomous self order that will arise from groups of employeeswith the most varied talents, interests and motivation.DialoguesTo make the variable part – the subjective, often implicit part – effective, thevariety of activities carried out by each individual has to be made explicit.This gives each activity meaning in the whole and creates cohesion. One canonly achieve this by analysing each other’s activities, putting them into wordsor images and holding onto them for a while. Hence, dialogues and interac-tion are needed so that people can state the intention behind their actionsand explain why they chose to do things one way and not another. So there’sa need for continuous dialogue about the deeper reasons for activities, themotives and their results.These dialogues do not aim at the predictability of activities. They help togain insight into the meaning of different activities, facilitating the creationof new forms, new talents, new variations.The following figure gives a framework for dialogue about subjective(unique) actions.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 6. 6 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEEverything concerning meaning is situational and hence flexible and change-able. Meaning is always created in co-creation. In co-creation a natural orderunfolds that is in harmony with the whole. Trusting this process is crucial forthe success of the dialogues.Through dialogues about concrete choices, teachers and students are devel-oping content and methods for a variety of means of knowledge transfer.This process doesn’t take place overnight, but step by step, by talking, tryingout, giving each other feedback and having the courage to make errors,looking at the same topics in new ways over and over again in order to dis-cover new and different approaches, respond to them and try them out.Situation NowBy putting these new organisational and educational models and methodsinto practise, the interactions between teachers, students, educational con-cepts are aligning more and more. Students indicate that they enjoy schoolmuch more than before. And measurable results speak for themselves. Students in the newsystem score 1.5 points (out of 10) better than students in the traditionalsystem, both on traditional knowledge tests and skills tests. And parentsremark that their children have become more independent in taking initia-tives outside school.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM