Learning and Development lessons from Spiderman: Lesson 3, Values


Spiderman keeps his identity secret in order to protect those he cares about, he learns how to develop his newly found superpowers and he meters out justice with a certain discipline. Spiderman has values.

This is the 3rd and final blog about my reflections on the recent conference I attended, Brave New Learning at OBA in Amsterdam. In the last 2 blogs I looked at creativity and balance in education and in this blog I’m going to explore values.

I attended 2 talks at the conference that brought values to life brilliantly.

Both women shared how their value of making a positive difference in the world inspired them to take action and create a solution to a problem.

A solution that helped them feel better and on a much larger scale helped their peers and communities.

And in keeping with the conference’s name, the talks were brave, new and reflected the learning of the presenters.

Both presentations were from a series called Student Talks.

Student Talks is a series of presentations delivered by passionate students with an idea and a story to share. So far talks have been delivered in 29 global cities and this month alone there are three events, in Burundi, Iceland and Mexico.

The student talks I attended were inspirational.

 “There is a difference between what a school offers and what a student wants and needs.”

The first talk was by Eva-Lisa Janssen. Eva was excited about going to university and yet when she got there she found apathy and students who were more focused in class on Facebook and Netflix on their devices rather than engaging in debate and learning.

Eva-Lisa saw a problem. “I realized there was a difference between what a school offers and what a student wants and needs.”

And when faced with a problem she explained there are 3 things you can do:

  1. Shrug it off and move on
  2. Rebel against it
  3. Create an alternative

And you can see where this is going…

Like Spiderman who saw that his skills could benefit others and make things better, Eva-Lisa saw an opportunity to make things better for her fellow students.

She, along with her friends, chose to create an alternative curriculum, Ucademy, and they’ve put together a peer led programme that focuses on competences that engage people in class and prepare them for the workplace.

Five competences that she believes are in demand both by students and by the workforce they will enter:

  1. Empathy
  2. Controversy
  3. Resourcefulness
  4. Experiential learning
  5. Introspection

You can find out more about the range of programmes on offer for both students and the workplace here.

The second talk was by Jaira Sona Chin.

“37% of people in India are illiterate.”

In 2016, a then 22 year old Jaira went on holiday to Pushkar, India: a trip that changed her life and the lives of a community.

She visited the homes of children who were begging from her and found they lived in tents with no sanitary conditions at all.

She was shocked by the poverty she witnessed.

Two months later Jaira returned to Puskar and began to build The Blue House.

This house is now a home to a number of families and it also provides a school for children, too. Says Jaira “37% of people in India are illiterate.”

In 2019 Jaira and her mother remain the main drivers behind this project. The Blue House now raises funds for families through the sale of jewellery, sponsorship of children to go to school and it provides work opportunities for parents.

Jaira recently returned from a trip to The Blue House where she organized a sports day for the now 24 children that attend the school. And, would you believe, that Jaira does this as a side gig, as she is still a student.

Whilst neither of these young women wear a super hero costume or can leap from building to building the work they are doing in the educational world is the stuff of super heroes.

They saw a problem, something that really bothered them and they put their energy, focus and time into crafting a solution.

Education is a great leveler.

It can help us achieve more than we think we can and it can open new worlds to us and others that we might never have thought possible.

The work that Eva-Lisa and Jaira continue to do is an example to us all that we can make a difference.

What difference can you make today to the world around you?


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