Enter the Multiversity

Why do we think it is a good idea to fill the minds of young people with knowledge that our parents thought useful? Knowledge that we already know is mostly obsolete.

Right now we are training college students for jobs that will no longer exist 10 years from now. We are preparing a generation for the past. Not the future.

The solution is not creating better schools or universities.
The solution is building something I call Multiversities.

Multiversity stands for a life long education. It starts at the age of 5 – as soon as we enter kindergarten – and continues through our primary school, secondary school, college and beyond.

Multiversity education is not just offering better knowledge.

Multiversity education is setting the conditions in which talents are fostered, essential skills are developed and ambitions may come to full fruition.

So, how does a Multiversity do this? By focussing on three essential skills that our current education system fails to address:

1. Curiosity: Allocate at least 20% of a student’s time to the discovery and development of their own unique academic, scientific or artistic talents. Einstein developed much of his theories because his (admittedly not too exciting) job as a clerk at a Swiss patents office allowed him lots of time to think about theoretical physics.

2. Creativity: Allow multitalentedmulticultural teams of students to tackle challenges they feel are important. Humans being are surprisingly creative: especially when they are working on issues they care about. For young kids this could be the lay out of their playground, for university students this could be issues on a much more academic level.

3. Connectivity: Immerse students for at least 20% of their time in an educational environment in which Chinese, Portuguese or Arabic are being spoken. To truly teach students to connect and collaborate in a global village we should create environments that challenge them cross barriers of language and culture and interact.

Let’s move in this direction.

For starters education will become more interesting and fulfilling. I also believe that the future of our kids, our economies and even our culture will become much more interesting and fulfilling.

I belong to a generation for whom university was a great once in a life time experience. That was back then. I hope that my 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter will be able to enjoy a life long Multiversity-experience.

This speech was delivered by Bastiaan van de Werk at the Deloite & Touche Leaders of Tomorrow side-event to TEDx Rotterdam on the 13th of October 2012. It was the result of a very short short brainstorm session with Ronald van der Heijden, Inge van Bogerijen, Maartje Neggers.

What are your ideas? What skills or talents should a Multiversity offer that I have missed? Or should we stick to what we’ve got?

2 Replies to “Enter the Multiversity”

  1. Hi Bastiaan,
    I really appreciated this post and agree with you! I have been looking at a similar concept from the perspective of new socio-technical infrastructure (concepts and development). Actually moving in the direction you propose does require that this new thinking be carried over into tech development as part community change management. One shift that seems the move away from segmentation (by age for example) towards more inclusive models that help make sense of open systems – I think this suggest that areas like economic or community development are integral to identifying how to solve the educational challenge – like how to implement the shift or how to cover the cost of the change(s).

    I have been looking at how this could emerge as part of an inquiry process – I’d love your thoughts and feedback. I’ve sent you a “tweet” invitation to connect on Linkedin and would also like to share this link with you http://openrfp.net/node/547 and http://www.ideaconnection.com/solutions/innovative/1653-New-approaches-to-infrastructure-help-reframe-economi.html ….just in case you are moved to have a conversation along these lines.

    Best always!

  2. Hi Yvette, thanks for your great input and sharing some of your thoughts.

    I took me some time to get back to you: my apologies.

    “One shift that seems the move away from segmentation (by age for example) towards more inclusive models that help make sense of open systems.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Anybody with kids will agree that in some situation kids of various age-groups mingle and cooperate very well – or kids who do not even speak the same language for that matter.

    A non scientific observation. My own kids grow up in a somewhat multicultural (or at least multi-lingual environment); they have Indonesian cousins who speak some broken English at best, have perhaps a dozen ‘funny’ Dutch words under their belt….just watching them interact with each other: playing games, teaching each other songs, making drawings etc. It’s amazing how well they communicate – and improve their language skills in a matter of days.

    Kids are amazing learnings as well as teachers.

    This is particularly true when kids share a passion and a set of complementary talents and skills.

    Such cross cultural exchanges could be facilitated by schools – I know we have a British an American, a Japanese school nearby and tons of schools with the children of immigrants. I would take some courage and I’m not sure such an approach would work with all school subjects: but art classes, music classes or gymnastics would probably be good starting points.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me again!
    Talk to you soon.

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