Power In the Process

Camila Chaudron '08

June 23, 2014

“How can we catalyze good intentions into meaningful actions?” Academy Dean William Ouellette asked his group members at the Social Entrepreneurship and Creativity in Learning Workshop, held on June 8 – 10, 2014. Ouellette’s question wasn’t simply rhetorical – his group tackled and reframed a concrete issue and hope to implement their project conclusions in the upcoming academic year. The three-day workshop also featured a presentation by Dr. Yong Zhao, an associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon, and Dr. Ron Beghetto, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut.

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Zhao, an educator of international renown, addressed social entrepreneurship in education and explored “one of the most important and urgent issues in education today: How do we turn an education paradigm that’s designed to prepare employees rather than entrepreneurs?” He and over 30 workshop participants, which included Punahou students, faculty, staff and non-Punahou teachers, discussed this question and others in depth.

“We know that entrepreneurs are creative, they’re different: They create opportunities and jobs. But are entrepreneurs born, or made? If entrepreneurial attributes can be cultivated through education, what should the elements of those programs be? And are there certain things that we do in education on a daily basis that hinder the development of entrepreneurial qualities?” Zhao asked. The workshop focused primarily on supporting social entrepreneurs, those who are interested in maximizing social impact and social benefit instead of financial profit.

In the second and third days of the workshop, Beghetto facilitated an exercise in creative learning. “We started with a dilemma and went through a series of steps that concretized what we learned into a product. But the real power lay in the process,” explains Ouellette. “He made us question our assumptions and brought out ideas instead of dismissing them.”

Beghetto used his areas of expertise – creativity in schools, learning and motivation – to demonstrate how to create a “need to know” and promote intrinsically motivated learning. “Creative risk comes at cost. We need to build the confidence necessary to take creative risks in teaching and learning,” Beghetto said.

“The best part of the workshop,” Ouellette explained, “is that students were full participants, contributing their ideas on how to best support student learning.”

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