Chaos, complexity and failing forward is something start-ups do. Order, structure and measured learning is what educational institutions do. That sounds contradictory, and what can we learn from it.
A few years ago I went to Århus, Denmark, to experience Kaospilot. There I was challenged, thrown into chaos, exposed to my own and others their feelings, and made to think about it. And after that, were we given tools to navigate complexity together, and tools to design programs that are based on experiential and team learning.
learning in complexity
Learning at Kaospilot is experiential and confrontational. You are ‘forced’ by the learning space to learn from your mistakes, act with as little information as possible (how little is enough?), and deeply search for information when you realize you do not know. If you are open to it: man, you will remember those lessons!
Teams are also a core factor in succeeding in navigating complexity. Teams that are aligned, have commitment, a very high degree of trust between the members and a clear direction.
start-up mindset towards learning
Higher education should be more like start-ups. Our product, ‘educated youngsters’, have to be prepared for the unknown out there, with the proper tools to navigate it. Today`s teachers an students know very little about tomorrow`s workplaces. Learning to act with little information isn’t the paradigm. Too often students are served ‘relevant knowledge’ or ‘content’ on a plate without ‘forcing’ them to actively search for information they do not know. Do they really remember those lessons? Chaos, complexity and failing forward can be very constructive for learning. Research shows that the best predictor for performance in education is the belief ‘Yes I can/know’. That belief comes from experiencing equally what I can and what I cannot do , what I know and what I don´t. Finding solutions to that, guided by a mentor and helped by your team of peers, when needed, is crucial to learning. This belief that I know and do things and at the same time be challenged on it, gives a fantastic feeling of empowerment and drives people forward.