What kind of future do you envision? What are the competences that a student of the present should master in order to be able to shape a sustainable future? As an educator, how can you support your students in such a way that they will be able to find their own answers? Asking these questions is about empowerment. If you want to know what an empowered learner is: check my other blogpost.
Empowerment brings the student to the centre of the learning experience. It’s about recognising and realising their own humanity and their own ability to take action for positive change. Empowering students enables them to cooperate and to take ownership of their learning. Everybody can make a change. This experience can help students to shape the future in a sustainable way.
To help with the application of empowerment in practice, as a planning and reflective mechanism, I want to ask some questions that can help stimulate this process. They can be seen as triggers and definitely are not meant to be a check-list.
- Does the learning experience allow for elements such as interaction / reflection / communication / exchange / recognition of emotions?
- Is self-directed learning possible / are students self-directed?
- Which competences are promoted?
ripples of empowerment
Behind each of the empowerment ripples lies a selection of competences:
- enable students to cooperate, participate, take responsibility and learn in a self-directed way;
- enable students to be reflective and critical thinkers – considering different perspectives to reach informed opinions and decisions;
- allow students to take ownership of their learning and reflect on what and how they have learned;
- empower students to be creative, flexible and able to take positive action to deal with change;
- enable students to become conscious of interconnectedness – you, me and the world around.
Change is underway. Changes in the ways societies conduct their everyday affairs. Ways that are leading to a new wave of developments and challenges with impacts. Everyone should have the opportunity to be part of this change by cooperating and participating actively and responsibly.
The learning outcomes/competencies below will play a part in the realisation of this step toward empowerment for the emerging future.
- Students will be able to think critically and with curiosity about the world around them, including information they encounter;
- Students will develop the ability to reflect upon and modify their behaviour and actions in accordance with the effects these have on the world around them;
- Students will be able to apply a systems approach to their thinking, moving away from linear thinking patterns;
- Students will be able to form informed and autonomously reached opinions and decisions;
- Students will be able to consider things from different perspectives and to understand the perspectives of others;
- Students will be able to apply a holistic and interdisciplinary manner to their learning;
- Students will be able to reflect upon their own abilities and gain self belief in order to take action in a positive way;
- Students will be able to form and conduct life plans, taking responsibility for their lifelong learning;
- Students will be able to deal with a changing and uncertain world by developing an adaptive and flexible approach in their thinking and action;
- Students will develop a sense of initiative and of turning ideas into action. This involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking;
- Students will be able to envisage a positive future, thinking and acting with respect for future generations;
- Students will be able to listen actively and communicate in a clear, and respectful way;
- Students will develop skills for team working, cooperation and participation in an active and democratic way;
- Students will be able to take on individual and collective responsibility for themselves, others and the world around them;
- Students will be able to reflect upon and communicate their own feelings considerately, and respect the feelings of others;
- Students will be able to apply knowledge and methodologies that explain the natural world in order to explore positive solutions to human impacts;
- Students will be able to experience and take responsibility for promoting their physical and mental health and well-being through interaction with and in nature.
Students will need to develop a range of thinking related competences in order to play a positive role in society. In today’s society it is necessary to be a lifelong learner. Someone who is continually seeking new knowledge, skills and abilities. This is not restricted to professional life. Only than higher education will succeed in developing the capabilities of individuals, prepares future generations to be able to participate actively and consciously in an actively society. That is why we need empowered educators and students.