A Million Minds: Building Unshakeable Foundations for Transformational Change

Andy Middleton
July 5th 2018

The world needs a new generation of bright-eyed, open hearted leaders with the confidence and skills to inspire change at speed and scale. Million Minds is a new platform being built by progressive educators and activists in businesses and community to find and share the best resources imaginable to help those future leaders grow.

Our mission is to develop a support system that gives teachers and teams working with a million pupils the insights, connections and resources they need to create deep and lasting shift in the way we live and work. 


We’ll do this by working with 150 forward-looking schools and colleges of 600+ pupils / students in each of 10 countries.A unique funding model uses cutting edge forensic accounting techniques in large businesses to find and correct errors in their finance systems. In fixing errors, we generate resources and opportunities for innovation and impact. We will find money that corporate partners didn’t know they had lost and will use it to build the Million Minds platform, creating value for free. 


Our goal is to give young people a minimum of 500 hours’ hands-on experience of easing challenges that matter. Starting with their school’s energy, food, transport and energy use they can work outwards to tackle challenges in at home, in business and the public sector. Gaps in their problem-solving, project management, design or finance can be closed with the help of local experts from business or government using their CSR time (corporate social responsibility) to best effect.Pupils and teachers weave these challenges and learning into existing curriculum subjects, bringing fresh eyes and new confidence to develop possible solutions. Practical, worked through ideas can be pitched back to the people who presented own them with costs, benefits and recommended action steps. Solutions and learning will be shared peer-peer through the Million Minds platform. 


Context 

The complexity of rapidly shifting workplace skills due to automation, data, transparency and ethics is underpinned by a more urgent need to respond effectively to the combined challenges posed by damage to the earth’s support systems. These challenges are well expressed by Oxford academic Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics (see infographic) which illustrates the need to make decisions that redress the overshoot of planetary limits and build the foundations of social justice for a resilient economy.

Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act is an excellent example of what can happen when progressive legislation shifts behaviour at national scale. The Act places a duty on the entire public sector to maximise its contribution to seven wellbeing goals and to demonstrate that all reasonable steps have been taken to do so. Slipstream Futures and TYF St.Davids, architects of A Million Minds, are working with government, business, corporates and environmental charities to establish Wales as our first country-scale test track for sustainable change. #


By bringing together a unique partnership of leaders in education, the wider public sector, corporates, SMEs and third sector, we can accelerate progress towards shared goals that delivers for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and business /organisational resilience. 


Connected Enterprise

A Million Minds seeks to future-proof student’s skills by embedding impact learning across the curriculum through an imaginative new support system developed with teachers, local authority, NGOs, business and community. 


Million Minds will engage with and support the teachers, businesses and charities who already know and work with progressive schools. Together, we will build the best possible methodology and toolkit to help young people activate and reinforce the development of curiosity, empathy and principled reasoning that helps them ease any problem at any time. 


Pupils will be presented with real challenges by local and national organisations, taught new skills by volunteers from the business community, and invited to investigate those challenges with imagination, insight and the ‘naïve genius’ of youth. Once pupils have shaped ideas into potential solutions, they’ll pitch ideas to those who set them, with the intent of catalysing actions in their community that improve outcomes and unleash powerful learning. We will weave a silver thread of enterprise thinking that runs from early years to graduation in the most ambitious, informed schools in the partner countries and encourage others to join us on the journey.

Our initial task is to identify the first 200 education leaders and build partnership resources with others to maximise use of resources and time. We anticipate working with the Ashoka Foundation, Unreasonable, Creative Commons, Resilience Brokers, WizeNoze, Cambridge University, the Do Lectures, environmental NGOs, progressive businesses and leading trade bodies such as IEMA. 


Delivery Focus

In early years, pupils in progressive schools will already be sharpening thinking skills, curiosity and creativity. By the age of six or seven, they can be starting to imagine school as a non-profit business, and taking responsibility for running the essentials of the school’s systems — energy, water, waste, transport and food. In secondary school, pupils will repeat some of the processes they learned in primary, working with budgets that are five or six times larger. By their mid-teens, they will have developed the skills and confidence to start investigating more complex challenges, set by leaders of organisations in their community. We are planning our initial investigations to focus on: 


Mapping the boundaries of possibility. 

Busy people with scarce resources have little time to look out of the window and the scan the world for change already happening. We know there is a bounty of good practice outside most people’s field of vision that could be transformative if explored, adapted and implemented. Million Minds will map the opportunity and impact of scaling up what’s already known to work. 


MVC: Minimum Viable Capability. 

We will work with established subject experts to collate an effective set of ‘knowledge, skills and values essentials’ about the global context for future leaders to make sense of the world they’re working in. We’ll build training programmes to develop the experiential learning interventions that make this ‘MVC’ understandable and memorable for future leaders, knowing that some of the magic will rub off on teachers, business and civic leaders too.. MVC would include for instance, understanding the causes of climate change, biodiversity loss, externalities in accounting, basics of motivation, influence and nudge theory, and know how to make faster change through collaborative, agile working. 


F3: Fit for the Future

There’s no shortage of ‘know-how’ to tackle complexity in the business world, yet not enough of it is shared in education. We will search the world of corporate and SME, public and third sector problem solving, then condense insights and approaches into teachable, reality-based modules that can be taught by others in school and build confidence and leadership using experiential learning and deep adventures in wild places.

It’s always good to spend a couple of minutes doing a beach clean on a coastal hike. The exercise multiplies in impact when pupils are invited to think up ways of ensuring that the things they buy help good stories grow.


Pupils will i) grow skills and nurture the values that employers from all sectors have identified as critical for future employment, ii) build their leadership and team skills with re-imagined adventure residential experiences, iii) grow skills and confidence by working on their school, iv) use what they’ve learned to investigate more complex challenges in business and community. 


Outcomes 

Grades

Academic literature is rich with benefits that challenge based / project-based learning can bring to young people in school and college. Cognitive Edge’s SenseMaker platform will capture the narrative changes in experience and help teachers match pupils’ shift in awareness to the improvements in grades that we expect to see as practical problem solving increases academic ability. 


Future Skills 

Building core competencies at a level that matches the risk and opportunity that they’ll be deployed on. The ability to use imagination, innovation and enterprise approaches to create smarter futures will help pupils run their schools as their own business. We expect to see concrete examples of applied enterprise as pupils improve the way that energy, waste, water, transport and resources are managed in their school. 


Confidence

As pupils learn the principles of agile, responsive working and how to treat things that don’t work as expected as feedback and information to grow rather than ‘failure’, confidence in stretching ideas and learning will grow as evidence of their impact shows through their work.

Pupils and parents at Cadoxton Primary make sandwiches and snacks from ‘Real Junk Food’, supplied by FareShare and local supermarkets, and sell it through a pop-up ‘pay as you feel’ shop in the school grounds.


Solutions 

The world is swimming with opportunity and countless examples of shining, practical changes that make a real difference to citizens, business and nature. Too often though, examples of ‘how’ don’t travel as well as they might. Energy, resources and time are spent reinventing solutions that already exist rather than helping what works grow stronger. As solutions are mapped, we will help co-create an index of possibility that can nurture rapid learning, hope and progress. 


Wellbeing & Resilience

By sharing the know-how of how to make the most of time in nature, and the benefits it can bring, the foundations for a lifetime of good wellbeing resilient citizenship will be strengthened. Better connections between how, why and when will increase the likelihood of active lives led well. 


Next steps 

If you’re a teacher, a school head, or a business leader with a compelling sense of the scale of shift needed and an understanding of the latent power that could be released by connecting schools, business and community in new ways, then get in touch. Together, we’ll can fire up the first Million Minds, and then raise our ambition.


Originally published on Medium 


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