Prof. Yuli Tamr, Former Israeli Minister of Education
What is Education Cities?
If Alvin Toffler describes three economic waves: Agrarian, Industrial and Informational, Education Cities see themselves as citizens of the fourth wave - the Knowledge wave. At the peak of this wave, most of the world’s population will make a living from creating new knowledge.
Education Cities believe that everyone, a kid or an adult, is one of a kind and brings to the world a unique package. They see the finding of one's uniqueness and expressing it, a vital component in establishing a healthy and prosperous society.
At the same time, the individual should see the uniqueness of the people around him/her, and the importance of expressing it as well.
The heart of "the art of collaborations" is creating a network of individuals who find and express their uniqueness while taking part in a shared creation:
All for one, and one for all.
In order to leverage the local story and use it to strengthen the city’s people, adults and children alike, one must harbor collaborations between the various active elements in the city. Every city, very much like every person, has unique areas of strength and multiple growth areas. A city successful in linking its strength and growth areas with that of its students and population as a whole will produce strategic and exceptionally meaningful growth engines.
Education Cities turn the city into one big school, by making collaborations between the first sector (formal and informal education, welfare, employment, city planning, engineering, etc.), the second sector (businesses), the third sector (non-profit organizations) and the fourth sector (social business organizations) that are active in the city.
One of the main tools for connecting between all the city's elements is the Educational/Urban Innovation Lab. The lab serves as a platform for nurturing and developing citywide collaborations. It tackles municipal challenges while empowering and supporting its individual participants which can be teachers, heads of teachers, leaders of the education system, representatives from various organizations, business representatives, artists, and every resident interested in taking part in tackling challenges.
In the past, all processes of change were cumbersome and lengthy because of the need for the state's approval. Today, a meaningful change can occurr in the world. A change that generates productive collaborations between the state (Ministry of Education) and local authorities. The center of gravity and control over education and other aspects of our lives is shifting from the hands of the state to the local authority. Mayors, municipal directors of education departments, and local entrepreneurs, are no longer required to wait for a lengthy and sluggish nationwide process, and have the mandate to implement innovative educational programs in their municipality and to promote innovative and groundbreaking education. Our challenge is how to make the most out of this extraordinary momentum and bring all our partners to seeing it as well.
Education Cities was founded by Yaacov Hecht, who also founded in Israel the first Democratic School in the world ever to use this name. After that he founded IDEC – International Democratic Education Conference that is taking place for 25 years, each year in a different continent, and includes more than 2000 schools from about 30 countries.
How do you implement it?
Getting to know each other
In order to promote cooperation, Education Cities organization create and operate the Educational Urban Innovation Lab as a platform for cultivating and developing general urban collaborations.Read more ›
The laboratory deals with municipal challenges while empowering and supporting individual participants. These can be teachers, principals, education system leaders, representatives of various organizations, business people, artists and any resident interested in taking part in the success of the challenges.
In the laboratory, the individual participants become a group that empowers and supports its details and uses their unique abilities.
In the first stage, the laboratory is busy creating cooperation between all its participants.
They deepen the acquaintance between the assigned education cities' people, the city's leaders, schools principals etc. This is for the purpose of finding out what are the dreams, passions and ambitions of all the partners, so they can express these elements and build together a plan that will result in a wide agreement.
Shared learning expeditions
In the second stage, the group examines the city's challenges, selects its areas of activity, and sets out on a joint learning journey (usually from ways of dealing with similar challenges around the world).Read more ›
People will go out on a shared learning expedition – virtual and real – in order to expand the limits of our imagination we have to learn, especially in the third circle (first circle – personal experience, second circle – learning from and with colleagues, third circle – global innovations in your area of interest).
Designing the city's unique model for innovative education
In the third stage, based on the new knowledge that was gathered in the learning phase, a new model of education for the city is designed.Read more ›
The design will take into considerations limits of budget, urban and state rules and more, but if by now there is a network of colleagues and friends, working together on the new model, in spite of potential limitations it should grow wings.
Implementing connected education
In the fourth stage, a municipal education group accelerates all the co-operation that exists in the city and connects the education system to create a "smart city".Read more ›
This stage brings the new model into practice.
This collaborative work can take place in the classroom, at school, in the city, and in the world. Laboratory participants flourish and work with energy and inspiration, allowing them to dream, learn, and try. Their enthusiasm, even if directed at a small island of innovation, is contagious and produces a movement of joint creation throughout the city. In return, they gladly contribute to its development and pride in their belonging to it.
For example, in the city of Netanya each school conducted a meaningful process of defining and expressing its uniqueness.
Parents could, for the first time, choose the school that suited their child and not just send the kids to their neighborhood school. After this, the city began to generate a network of schools, supporting and teaching each other.