Jon takes us behind the scenes of Cuberider’s space program and shows us what it’s like to work with people who are on a mission to change the way students think about learning.
A consistent theme at our small startup:
I arrive between 8 and 8:30 am. Sebastian and Solange are working.
I leave around 5 pm. Sebastian and Solange are working.
This daily, weekly, monthly routine is what makes climbing out of bed so easy these days. I should start by saying Solange Cunin and Sebastian Chaoui (mentioned above) are the founders here at our small organisation. They love space and are dedicating their livelihood to instilling that love in a generation of learners. I come from a background in Literature and Education. However, I now love space too. Not because I am hired to do so, but because of the effective role-modeling employed by passionate chiefs and trickling down to us worker bees. At Cuberider, Sebastian has mapped out how we can expand to include future students on Mars missions. Solange has referred to the program as her child. The both of them, together have fought tirelessly to reshape the public’s understanding of what it is to go to school each day. Their dedication is inspiring, it inspires us to work hard as well.
Do you recognise that feeling somewhere in your memory banks? The one that forces you to push off hunger, fatigue, or drinks with the boys to push on with a project that matters to you?
My own example of inspiration is only to get to a larger point: We are trying to inspire students (that we can refer to whatever you want it to). Everything else falls into place if students are inspired to accomplish their goals. This thought process led me to another question: Why is inspiration so negligible in the education system? Why don’t more institutions spend money, resources, and energy trying to inspire students as opposed to scaring them into learning?
I suppose the simplest answer is that (a) it has always been done that way, and (b) it is easier to keep doing it that way. However, studies show that grade requirements, test scores, and deadlines are proven ineffective as learning motivators in education. Students will often oblige or fulfil demands of these requirements, but rarely will they excel to overachieve or continue learning once the grade is received.
I became a teacher because I remember a time when a teacher inspired me. Without getting into specifics, in my adolescent mind it was powerful; it was addictive, but it was all too rare. If you are a teacher reading this, I bet you have a similar memory. As an adult, I still seek out that addictive pulse of inspiration. I see it at Cuberider, I see it in my co-workers. We all want to see it in more schools.
To many teachers the growing crack in the foundation of education is obvious. If students are disengaged, everything suffers. However, If students are inspired, minds grow. I realise there is a lot of oversimplification taking place in these sentences, but bear with me. Let’s return to our own little startup office.
I have a motivation. I find myself excited to go to work every day. I find myself focused on ways I can grow and blossom the Cuberider message. I want this space mission to go so well that the 600+ students that are running experiments as a part of it all feel fulfilled, proud and excited to continue to create space experiments. That is the power of a little inspiration.
Anyway, I am the new guy here. I have only been fighting this fight for a short time. While I am a noob at Cuberider, the idea that the education system needs a reboot is one that I have experienced for a long time. To me, the key to that reboot is inspiration, and it is something I get to chip away at all day.