NEMESIS’ first teachers’ training took place in the middle of June in Thessaloniki. A meeting reflecting NEMESIS’ philosophy at their best – combining different knowledge to drive social change- which brought together more than forty teachers and several social innovators from five European countries.
Teachers like Paz, who didn’t know what to expect before coming to Thessaloniki: “I wasn’t familiar with social innovation”. She was not the only one. “I wasn’t familiar with it either, but now I think it is a very important concept that connects with school transformative capacity”, adds Ana Echevarría, from Los Albares school (Spain).
Paz and Ana are some of the forty or so teachers that attended NEMESIS training in Thessaloniki last June 11th-12th. For two days, we gathered social innovators together with teachers from the schools participating in NEMESIS’ first pilot project (find them here). The objective? To explore the first steps on adopting a collaborative approach for school project design.
“The idea is to open up curriculum design to other voices along with teachers, not only students but also people from outside the school, like social innovators” – Iván Alonso, NEMESIS.
The training was conceived as a practical simulation of a co-creation lab, the basis of the NEMESIS educational model: “A co-creation lab is a step forward in the way educative projects are designed at schools”, explains Iván Alonso. “The idea is to open up design not only to students, but also to people from outside the school, like social innovators. The aim is to be able to generate projects with a wider impact on the community”.
Teachers were paired up with social innovators and used different techniques to define and establish a first approach to a social problem of their interest. Along the way, they learnt different techniques and tools (like OPERA and other collaborative decision-making tools, digital storytelling techniques, and strategies to foster organisational change in their schools). “The tools proposed allow me – as a headteacher – to question my school project and push it forward. To improve our school project”, says Fanny Apotheloz-Selles, a French teacher.
“I have done enterprise education before, but this is different. Social innovation makes you think a lot wider”, sums up Marie Tomlinson, from Herringthorpe Junior School (UK). Behind all of it was NEMESIS’ concept of Social Innovation Education, defined as a “collaborative and collective learning process for the empowerment and socio/political activation of students to drive social change no matter their professional pathways”. Actually, we consider social innovation education as vehicle to drive positive social change. As NEMESIS Catherine Bretnall puts it, “it’s all about what kind of persons we want students to be”.
“I have done enterprise education before, but this is different. Social innovation makes you think a lot wider”, sumps up Marie Tomlinson, from Herringthorpe Junior School (UK)
In social innovation education competences fall under three categories: the ability to identify opportunities to create social value, the ability to build collaborations and form relationships, and the ability to take innovative action for the benefit of society. It is based on this idea of collaborative learning, in which everybody brings his or her experience and learn from others.
Something also true for entrepreneurs: “As a social innovator, it is not only what I can offer to teachers; it is also what I can learn from them”, says Sam Khebize, director of Les Têtes de l’Art. Kyla Raby, an invited entrepreneur based in Greece, adds: “It’s been really interesting to hear teacher’s reflections on what issues children and students are caring about at different ages, what kind of challenges they are coming up with in terms of getting their parents on board, or the challenges they are facing in their communities from a very diverse group of people across Europe”. “It was really useful for me because I saw how different cultures treat change”, points out Natasha Athanasiadou, from NEMESIS partner Generation Generous.
“What I’ve liked best was to see all the enthusiasm. Knowing we are not alone and we have many things in common certainly encourages me to keep working. It is an exciting challenge”, concluded Paz after the training. “I leave with more questions than answers, as happens when a work session is successful, because lots of questions emerge that we had not thought about before”, reflects Sam Khebize. “I’ve been waiting for a project like this for a long time, a project that helps me empower my students so they feel they can make a difference. Finally NEMESIS is here and I am jubilant”, concludes Aline, a Portuguese teacher from AEMaia school in Porto.