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What do you think of when you see the word ‘learning’?
I think of a classroom.
I think of an older person, lecturing. One-way communication.
I think of rote learning, memorisation, assessments.
I think of stress and boredom. Learning as outcome based, and competitive. Learning for advancement in society, without much choice involved.
I’ll bet that you thought of some of these too.
But can learning have the opposite effects?
Can it reinvigorate, inspire, entertain?
Can it do this while giving a sense of personal achievement, progress and enlightenment, that many of our modern means of entertainment (which typically have us as passive audiences, like TV) could never hope to achieve?
I think so. I think that’s just scratching the surface. It won’t be easy to transform Australian society’s traditional view of learning. But at ClassBento, we’ve made that our mission.
We think that Sculpture by the Sea is a great success story of how a team of passionate individuals can quickly put a different lens on something that have been around for millennia. Let’s see what we can learn from them.
What would you have thought of ‘sculptures’ 10 years ago?
I thought of boring old displays in museums, and high-priced auctions for the ultra rich. Inaccessible and irrelevant. Sculptures were for someone else, not me.
Then came Sculpture by the Sea.
Sculptures became massively accessible, at least for residents or tourists of Sydney. They were literally placed in the open, 100% free for anyone to see and play with. By being on spread out across the Bondi to Coogee walk, these sculptures inherited characteristics we normally associate with our beaches. Fun, spontaneity, tranquillity, beauty, local, Australian. People discovered that sculptures could be thought provoking, relatable, a social experience. Sculptures could be new, fresh, and relevant, reflecting the times that we live in. Sculptures could stretch our imagination, and give us feelings of awe, sadness, and everything in between. Sculptures could get us to question our place in the world.
Sculpture by the Sea transformed how we think and feel about sculptures.
There are plenty of other examples.
What do you think of when you hear about ‘philosophy’?
Abstract concepts preached by aged professors pondering away in ivory towers, like the existence and role of God, metaphysics, debating the definition of ‘knowledge’, ‘art’, ‘morals’; concepts utterly irrelevant to our modern lives?
The School of Life is transforming philosophy’s place in our lives, and aims to improve our emotional intelligence. It draws on philosophy (as well as the humanities) to help us approach topics like love, relationships, death, careers, happiness and more. Topics that are often ignored by traditional schooling.
Meanwhile, Masterchef has changed our perception of cooking from being a chore, to being cool, inventive, fun. There are lots of other examples, but Shakespeare tells me that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’, and I’d like to be seen as witty. To sum it up, the arts are being re-imagined to fit our modern lives.
So what’s the future of recreational learning?
We think that learning should still be recognised for its crucial traditional role, in preparing us for the necessary routines, complexities and customs of modern life. But we’d love people to change their perception of learning, from just thinking of learning as both learning for advancement, to also thinking of recreational learning.
A few years from now, we’d love Australians to list recreational learning (like the sort offered by ClassBento) as one of their top pastimes, alongside current favourites like sport, etc
Granted, it’s not for everyone or for every occasion. Sometimes our brains and bodies just can’t take anymore, and we do want to just veg out in front of a screen and be passively entertained. But there are certainly enough of us, who have enough hours in a week, who would prefer active entertainment, with all of the unique advantages it brings.
How role will ClassBento play?
Uncover hidden gems: In performance arts, artists don’t need a degree or qualifications to entertain, inspire, to change the world. In fact, going through the dogmas of formal schooling can dampen the creativity and uniqueness that makes art so wonderful. In contrast, we often assume that teachers must have years of formal education, to then be able to educate us. But similar to performers, skilled recreational teachers are everywhere. They just need to see the opportunity, to access a good platform. ClassBento will show them their podium.
Make it easy: Education is often administrated by government, and as such it often lags behind in technology adoption, and gets tied up in red tape about what can and can’t be done, by rules and regulations. One result is the 10-page checkouts on community education sites. ClassBento will make it easy.
Make offline cool again: Sure, some learning is best done individually, online, by watching demonstration videos, and reading manuals. Boring stuff like programming and statistics are some examples. But this approach isn’t suitable to every subject and every person. Humans are social creatures. Nothing can quite substitute for interacting with others in person, and using all our senses and expressions. And some subjects won’t make the transition to online easily. Imagine how difficult it would be to learn to dance, in your living room, watching a video. Or to learn how to sing, without real-time feedback, inspiration and motivation from a voice coach. ClassBento will bring offline back.
Make it known: We’ll spread the word. We’ll celebrate our gifted teachers. We’ll celebrate the pleasure of learning. We’ll let Australians know that they have other options for what they can do on weekends, how they can spend time with loved ones, how they can find like-minded friends in their communities. ClassBento will lead the way.
It’s an exciting future, and we can’t wait to get there with you.