“Raise your voice, be your own future!”

Elif Caliskan, a 17-year old girl from our Turkish partner Acarkent Doğa IB World School, undoubtedly has clear ideas about how to be her own future! After she won the WYRED Slogan Competition under the 14-17 category, she told us about her story, her dreams and the impressive science project she designed and carried out.
Let’s leave this story to her own words:

“Since I was a child, I have always dreamt about doing something that would have the power to change the world. With the great help of the introductory WYRED social dialogue sessions I attended, I found the courage to take action. I joined the WYRED community and their slogan contest.
I knew it could have a significant impact, but I did not think I would get that far.
When my slogan ‘Raise your voice, be your own future’ won first prize, I was completely mesmerised!

I was certain to achieve something, thanks to my dedication which I have always had to accomplish my goals; on this occasion, my goal was to achieve something that would be beneficial to humankind.
My school and my chemistry teacher Mustafa Abidinoğlu, supported me in my interest towards science.
They have encouraged me to apply for the science project and supported me to discover how to carry out scientific researches.

I am particularly interested in global pollution, therefore I decided to develop something that would reduce the impact of global warming. Global demand for energy has greatly increased, due to the increase of population. This need for energy is met with fossil fuel; however, it has already been shown that it has harmful effects for human health and for the environment, not to mention its high costs. Therefore, I decided to use a salt called sodium sulphate to insulate dwellings. The salt will be exclusively from local production, therefore helping the country to supply its own. This house front insulation substance will be sustainable and environmentally friendly as well, in contrast to the ones that are currently in use.

The materials in use today are outdated and, since I believe that new age materials should be used, I realised my project. After I finished my project, I decided to send it to the National Science Competition so that everyone could hear my voice. When I presented my project to judges of different science competitions, they looked at it with great interest, and the project was chosen to be sent to international competitions. Presenting what I put my efforts in was a great feeling. I knew that this project would not save the world, however, I was off to a good start.

I am still pursuing my interest in science and searching for ways to develop myself.
I hope that my ambition will make me one of the greatest female scientists who ever lived.”

Society really needs to focus more on these kinds of everyday success stories.
Once again we are proud of belonging to the WYRED global community!

Elif Caliskan and her winning slogan

The post “Raise your voice, be your own future!” appeared first on netWorked Youth Research for Empowerment in the Digital society.

Youth, utopias and revolutions at the XIII edition of the Philosophical Olympics in Salamanca

Does it still make sense to talk about revolution in our day? Is there a search for a utopia at background for a revolution? The digital society has revolutionized social interaction and communication, especially among young people. What tools do young people need to live these changes in a conscious way?

On March 23rd and 24th, the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Salamanca hosted the finals of the XIII edition of the Philosophical Olympics, a regional competition (as part of the national process, to be developed in May) aimed to secondary school students.

The event, which was also sponsored by the WYRED project, gathered over two days 400 boys and girls aged 13 to 17 from Castile and Leon. Young people had the opportunity to talk with philosophers, educators, engineers, youtubers and television series consultants, sharing with them questions and reflections on how to face modern revolutions and utopias and to become an active part in the construction of their future. The interaction in the meeting room was managed by a “unconference”, supported by mobile phones and a collaborative wall.

Participants in the conference at the Faculty of Philosphy of USAL

In particular one of the themes addressed was the utopia of the technological revolution and we would like to share with you the main results of the discussion.
At the present, when we talk about technology, we talk about a revolution. Nobody is oblivious to that social revolution which comes from the hand of technology. The advances occur so quickly, that nowadays the generations of the future are trained with knowledges and practices of the past in a present in which many people are already overwhelmed by the context of the informatics and communications. The request of 21st century citizens is for computational thinking skills to understand the world in which they live and the artefacts they will find in their daily life. But, computational thinking is not an end in itself, it is only one item more in a toolbox plenty of options that should be chosen and combined, in particular and related to the ethical issues associated with the development and use of technology, the computational thinking skills should be always complemented with critical thinking capabilities with the aim that technology will be defined and used in the right way and ethically. the problems that we are going to face every day are tremendously ambitious, tremendously attractive, but also dangerous.

The technology is going to be there, but let’s not forget that the important thing about technology is that it serves us, therefore researchers have to be there with our critical thinking to know it and to manage it, because otherwise we will become only in a mass controlled by that minority that controls technology. A quote from one the most important scientific and philosopher, which unfortunately has recently abandoned us, Stephen Hawking summarized the conclusion of the discussion: “Success in creating effective Artificial Intelligence, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So, we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by Artificial Intelligence, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.”

The event is the first step of a dialogue at large scale with young Spanish people, which will be followed by a think tank organized by the USAL WYRED group with the aim of proposing a new version of the WYRED manifesto and new inputs for the research projects.

The entire conference is available here.

For further information please see https://olimpiadafilosofica.com/

The post Youth, utopias and revolutions at the XIII edition of the Philosophical Olympics in Salamanca appeared first on netWorked Youth Research for Empowerment in the Digital society.

Fresh proposals for future education

We do believe that the best way to show how WYRED truly brings out the voice of youth is by presenting the artifacts realized by the young participant to this project. As a matter of fact, nothing tells us about the youth of today more than turning their own words, their own feelings and ideas down into tangible objects for you to see. The success story we are about to tell you is quite a representative example of how this is true.

Valentina Borowansky, a 17-year old from Austria, has written an essay on the topic of future education, called “The Prison School – How the System Fails us”.

“We study. A lot. But we don’t really know anything. We can’t use it. We are not smarter than before.
But how does this work out? We go to school. We study. Then why don’t we know anything?

Did we fail the system? Or did the system fail us?” – is what she asks herself, and us, in her paper aiming to show how today’s school system makes children, young people and their own parents “all prisoners”.

Her ultimate objective is that of demonstrating how school actually doesn’t just provide children and young people with knowledge, but also takes knowledge from them. “The current school system is twisted, outdated, unauthentic and hostile of individuality. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are alternatives.”

Valentina outlines six essential points that, according to her, turn school into “a prison”.

  • The 50-minute school lessons: often meaning that students are forced to stop in the middle of a vivid discussion, an experiment or a fruitful analysis, and forced to focus on something totally different;
  • Young people do not have enough free time: this is especially frustrating as they enter into their final years of school, as they could devote their time to their interests to relieve themselves of the burdens imposed by school, homework and tests. Their spare time is too often overloaded with school-like activities (es. cram school), with the goal of helping them to succeed in school.
  • Too much importance is given to marks. Everybody has to achieve their best results. Since no mistake is allowed, young people are always put under the pressure of having to achieve good marks. Doing bad at school often leads to low self-esteem. Any curiosity for something different than school is put off, as school often takes more knowledge from students than it gives.
  • To be successful students have to put on a mask to hide their own individuality. “Do not invite unwanted attention, stay somewhere in the middle”, then you will succeed. Even after school is just the same.
  • School topics have nothing to do with real life. For example, there is no connection between the formulas forcibly memorized in maths and reality. They are being just learned for the test and forgotten after 2 minutes…
  • The school system will not admit responses differing from “YES”. A student’s life is all about agreeing, respecting rules, being subjected to somebody. These teachings might be prove useful in the future, but which one? This has nothing to do with the future we are heading to.

When focusing on solutions, Valentina argues that there already exist teachers with innovative approaches in didactics and methodology. However, this is just one side of the coin. The other side is the entire education system, which keeps parents, teachers and young people together. Valentina proposes new, democratic, alternative model of schools: for example “Kapriole in Freiburg”, or “The free school in Leipzig” which focus on childrens’ and young people’s individual skills and let the teachers play the role of empowering “Learning-Coaches” that foster the curiosity of the learners.

“Maybe this is not the ultimate solution for our old-crusted system, but it takes the right direction. We need to start learning, understanding, exploring and researching again. The people of tomorrow need a school of tomorrow.”

Valentina Borowanski, our young idealist longing for a better future for education

The post Fresh proposals for future education appeared first on netWorked Youth Research for Empowerment in the Digital society.