Open Source Education for the 21st Century

At Cognitive Policy Works, we are developing new approaches to solving problems in society. At the heart of our work is an educational paradigm we believe can inspire new models of teaching and learning that address the needs of 21st Century communities.

A bold vision like this requires more context than can be provided with text alone, so I would like to share a conference call with several members of our staff where we laid out an idealized model of educational excellence and then dug into the details to get at the workings of this new system.

The following podcast includes Dave DenHartog, Eric Haas, Sue Kerbel, and myself as we explore the Finnish Education system as an exemplar of the following design principles:

  • Promote creativity in students and NEVER do anything that threatens it;
  • Cultivate the individual talents of each student and help them find their passion in life;
  • Allow each school to design its own curriculum to serve the needs of its community;
  • Promote professionalism and excellence in the teaching profession.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Pasi Sahlberg for compiling an archive of materials on the Finnish system. Pasi is a world leader in education reform and a staunch advocate for educational excellence.

The Finnish system provides a foundation for considering what an “ideal” educational system might look like. The rest of the conversation is an overview of an Open Source Education System we are creating that is built on principles from the free and open source software movements.

How to Use These Materials

The podcast below makes use of additional materials that we include here. Two specific resources are provided to assist you as you follow along with our conversation:

  1. Prior to participating in the call, our staff read The Long and Short of Educational Change by Andy Hargreaves. It is not necessary that you read this to understand our conversation, though it provides a context for better understanding both the Finnish education system and the general nature of educational change.
  2. A powerpoint presentation to help visualize the Open Source Education System we explore throughout the call. You can follow along during the call by scrolling down this page as you listen (the slides are included below as graphics). Note: We begin using the powerpoint about 17 minutes into the call.

What We Hope to Accomplish Here

Our purposes for sharing these materials with you are (1) to provide greater transparency about the nature of our organization and (2) to inspire your participation in this (and future) projects of Cognitive Policy Works. This is the first time that we are presenting to the public the core themes of our change strategy, which include:

  • The cultivation of new professional practices;
  • Innovative educational services;
  • New skills and insights into political and social change;
  • Enhanced capacities for individuals and organizations to manage the change process while solving previously intractable problems.

We believe that the only way to address the great challenges of our age is to collaborate in innovative ways that empower people from all walks of life to contribute to process.

Please feel free to contact us directly about this work or join the discussion here by adding comments below.

Here’s the Podcast:


Here’s the Slide Show:

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Cognitive Policy Works specializes in providing organizations and individuals with frame analysis, policy briefs, strategic advising, and training.