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Notes from #WISE13

Fellow Navneeth P. Kumar writes in from Doha, where he, Raphael Richard and Michael Reksulak, participated in the 2013 WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education).


To say that the first day at the World Innovation Summit in Education was invigorating would be an understatement, especially with a theme like ‘Reinventing Education for Life.’

We began with a plenary session that took us along WISE’s journey over the past years. Dr Edgar Morin, a French philosopher and sociologist, set the tone with an invigorating talk on the need to interweave education into our way of life – of how “to live is to be alive to the uncertainties of Life” and how education of self is crucial to navigating these challenges.

The highlight of the first half of the day was definitely the WISE award for 2013 to Ms. Vicky Colbert, whose Escuela Nueva system of schooling has revolutionized the education system in Latin America. Check out http://www.escuelanueva.org/portal/.

The other highlight of the first day was Dr. Michael Reksulak, Chair of the MF Board and Senior Fellow, who engaged in a rich discussion on 21st Century Citizenship with Ms. Tala Hamash, a 2012 WISE Learner and research scholar at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Prof. Kenneth Paul Tan from National University of Singapore moderated the discussion by weaving the threads of both a structural designed experience like the Melton Foundation’s Global Citizenship program, that doesn’t stop at awareness but also the responsibility to act in our circles of influence, with Ms. Hamash’s intercultural experiences as a Palestinian student in Jordan, United States and now in the Middle-East.

This set the stage for an open discussion with an audience of no less than 15 nationalities bringing their perspectives and experiences to a debate spanning thoughts about access to education that could be perceived as ‘elitist or privileged,’ as well as motivations for global versus local. The importance of ‘empathy’ as a quality to develop was highlighted by Michael and applauded wholeheartedly by the audience during the debate.

There was indication that the audience was keen on what the Melton Foundation is doing, gathered from sensing the excitement in the debate and during the MF video played during the debate. Questions on scalability, evolution of design and curriculum-scaffolding, Global Citizenship 2.0 (or rather Global Governance 2.0 as voiced by Michael) are a few areas that are ripe for discussion amongst our forums, as we grow into a more visible and larger organization in the years to follow.

To conclude, the first day was a sign of things to come over the next two days: more excitement and energy, and I’m looking forward to the conversations that we will share over the next days, as well as a sense of gratitude for the opportunity that was made possible by the Melton Foundation – not just this event but for the way the Foundation and the experiences it has offered have made us develop as individuals making a difference through our actions in our interconnected geographies. Here’s signing off with a Thank You to all who’ve made this opportunity possible, especially Bill, Patricia, Chuck and Harriet!