Redesigning Educational Systems for the Future

Special Focus : Imagining the Future of Education
Learning Ecosystems and Leadership February 20, 2017

Today, more than ever, significant academic institutions should focus on molding and shaping young people by providing them with the necessary tools for being able to respond to the fast-paced, complex, and multi-dimensional challenges of today’s society.  This is imperative in order for youth to not be somehow conditioned by these changes, thus become devoid of emotions, incapable of forming community bonds, and becoming organizational “drones” trained for specific jobs.  So the questions become: how do we prepare young people for such a demanding life? What kind of educational experiences should they receive?
Therefore, a new educational paradigm based on Comprehensive Learning Experience is urgently needed to prepare young people to become tomorrow’s leaders with ethos to make the world a better place to live for the benefit of all people. This is called the Global Morforis Paradigm (gMp), consisting of three inseparable, interconnected and interrelated components:

  1. The Morfosis educational philosophy
  2. i2Flex methodology
  3. Aristeia leadership

ACS Athens has been implementing for the past 11 years the gMp which has resulted not only in doubling its enrollment and having a waiting list in certain areas, but in engaging students in serving humanity, as future leaders with ethos who must transform the world for the benefit of the less privileged people.  For instance, students lead the program “Youth to youth” educating all students which is focusing on providing the bridge program to prepare unaccompanied refugee children to be reintegrated in educational institutions and to society in general. As a result the first four refugee children are totally integrated at ACS Athens.
In the meantime students excel academically and are recruited from universities around the world. On the other hand faculty and administrators are creating new knowledge that they share with their colleagues via their scholarly publications, presentations around the world and recently with the co-authoring of an excellent book. This type of meaningful, holistic and relevant educational paradigm provided the avenue for developing partnerships with universities, and K-12 schools in US and Greece. The gradual but continuous influence of gMp on other partnering institutions is also evident through the fact that ACS Athens received its reaccreditation with a special protocol (“Sustaining Excellence”). Indeed, ACS Athens is the first ever international school accredited by this protocol which requires not only to adhere to standards, but also to implement Action Research in all classes. As a result ACS Athens was defined as “A model for success, where sustaining excellence is a continuous practice”.
Focusing on the Morfosis educational philosophy in particular, here are its main components:
Holistic means understanding and successfully combining the academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual
Meaningful refers to being in line with one’s principles and values and with one’s personal and professional goals. In addition, it must be meaningful in relation to a student’s dreams, strengths, desires and talents.
Harmonious refers to the idea that all human dimensions must be in harmony. In other words, emotions, intelligence, and intellect must be integrated in harmony.
Ethos refers to the essence and the focus of integrity. It is about following your conscience and doing what you know is right.
In addition, a Significant Educational Institution fulfills two conditions:
a.   It sustains excellence in the process of fulfilling its mission, vision, commitments and goals for all of stakeholders
b.   It continuously serves humanity. The institution is engaged in transforming the community for the benefit of all people, especially for the less fortunate or less privileged. These institutions are driven by the belief that “the world is changed by our every-day actions and examples and not only by our opinion” (Gialamas, 2015).

Such institution inspires and requires from all constituencies a continuous commitment to serving humanity by developing social interest (Adler in Crandall, 1980), promoting social engagement and expecting social commitment.
Significant educational institutions of the future which adopt the Morfosis Educational Philosophy should build their institution’s culture based on the following pillars: Meaningful Curriculum and Delivery Modalities, Faculty as Leaders, and Students as Leaders with Ethos.
The curriculum must be relevant to the daily life, exciting, current, and related to the needs of the community. Such a curriculum is comprised of four critical premises (SCRI) (Gialamas et al., 2000):

·      Skills: acquiring new skills and mastering existing skills that are relevant to and essentially needed to successful living in the 21st century.
·      Critical Thinking: developing informed decision-making competencies in order to address current and future problems and challenges
·      Relevance:  relating competencies to the learner’s environment
·      Inspiration: expressing the understanding of complex concepts in a unique and authentic way
In addition, the curriculum must not reflect any local cultural bias and must be reviewed often to ensure academic quality, clarity, effectiveness, and intercultural perspectives and sensitivities.
Today, with all the available teaching and learning tools and modalities, instructional delivery options are endless, and essential for any teacher who is really committed to providing the best educational experience to the students.
The emerging literature (Avgerinou & Gialamas, 2016) suggests that a new type of leadership is necessary for altering school culture, which implies change in the feelings, beliefs, attitudes and familiar ways of being, across the school.  This type of leadership is distributive and suggests that it is important to move away from the one, the savior, and the controller to a more democratic model, which encourages and empowers teachers to assume a different leadership role. The type of teacher who promotes and fosters innovation is a teacher who is not afraid to try different teaching methods.
A commitment toward developing leadership with ethos in students is to establish, embrace and foster a holistic approach on ethics with clearly defined standards and a mechanism of implementing these standards. This way, there is a balance between the rights of an individual community member and the rights of the community as a whole. As a result, students in particular will be developing their personalities conducive to academic success, personal growth and sensitivity to the developing local and global environment. They should influence each other to do the right thing and ultimately influence others in the local community towards the same direction.
Therefore educational institutions are catalysts for transforming the educational trajectory in the community they serve, as well as the nation, the region, and the world.
Avgerinou, M.D., & Gialamas, S.P. (Eds.). (2016). Revolutionizing K-12 blended learning through the i2Flex classroom model. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Crandall, J. E. (1980). Adler’s concept of social interest: Theory, measurement, and implications for adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(3), 481-495.
Gialamas S. (2015, Winter). From success to significance. Ethos 10(1), 6-12.
Gialamas, S., Cherif, A., Keller, S., & Hansen, A. (2000). Using guided inquiry to teach mathematical concepts. The Illinois Teacher Journal, 51(l), 30-40.
Gialamas, S., & Pelonis, P. (2008, September). Building bridges across the spectrum of K-12 through colleges education: A holistic, meaningful and harmonious approach. In Kathimerini (English ed.), pp. 13-14.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
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