We are in Rome today, chatting with Agnese Addone, Digital Champion at Rome’s CoderDojo. After years spent testing IT as primary school teacher. she discovered coding in June 2013 and never abandoned it, volunteering to make free coding workshops for kids happen. She already spoke about it in Italy’s Chamber of Parliament, at Digital Venice, in Brussels and at AgID. Last effort, 2014 MakerFaireRome, together with the joyful army of mentors from the Italian CoderDojo network.
How has your school experience been (as a student or as a teacher)?
My experience is not over yet. I started off as a student, I work as a teacher whilst continuing as learner and self-taught student, and acting as mentor and trainer.
Tell us about your dream school.
My dream school is collaborative, open, liquid, social and sociable. These words have a weight to me; I really use them, both when teaching and learning.
There is no “school” without collaboration, without the mutual exchange relationship between who lives it and lives in it.
It’s open, as this is the only way for it to welcome society and its transformations, it proposes, it doesn’t proclaim. It is necessary liquid, knowledge is made of ideas, proposals, projects; its activities are active and collaborative research workshops. Children and kids are social and sociable by nature, it’s us adults who build barriers and prevent this project from happening; we learn better together, we teach better as well. We designed our teachers’ training programs based on a social learning and self-learning model, by building a community before the proper program itself.
Knowledge is not transmitted, but collectively elaborated, in a horizontal process.
How do you envision an “open source school”?
A school where you don’t feel the need to set limits to no one, always tending towards something new, beautiful, useful and shared - but at the same time a school where everyone can access everything.
Anyone teaches, lectures, publishes, so to make knowledge available to all.
It’s not just a matter of waiting for those who can’t make it, agreeing to an intelligences-flattening and genie-sinking logic; I would better prefer finally seeing talents flourishing, with the right space being given to curiosity and creativity, sharing knowledge and generating new wisdom.
What would change, if an “open source school” existed?
Educational models would change, they would - necessarily - be led to changing. In Italy we have important pedagogic “schools”, known institutes visited from experts from all over the world. But they are not open, their model is locked. They don’t share much, just the minimum amount needed to be known, and demonstrate self-reference. Yet they are really innovative model - what a shame.
If you could rethink the way in which knowledge is transferred in schools, how would you envision it?
First of all, I believe kids should learn to be versatile. Entering the jobs market is almost an outdated concept, as work and study often coincide and complement one another.
It is more and more necessary to learn to think and reinvent ourselves, to keep on challenging each-other with always new skills, to be less sector-specialized, gathering broader and broader competences even in fields that are not necessarily coherent with our original career path.
I believe it is useful to teach kids to introduce themselves, which first of all implies working on self-awareness and self-branding.
Corporates should be tightly connected with the territory they act in, sharing their spaces and time from their activities to both teachers and students. This can only happen, though, if school accepts to do the same.
What does “doing research” mean?
I’m not a researcher, but I noticed that my activity is somehow similar to an on-field research.
To me, research is about working hard for the community and. above all, doing.
That’s the only way to notice one’s mistake and start over to improve.
In which way do you think technology can help us build a better world?
I am passionate about “technologies”, especially about those related to education. I believe that world improves with culture and that technology is the most democratic way to access it. Arts, theatre, cinema, music, literature, but even robotics, chemistry, coding, engineering… there is no knowledge field where technology hasn’t already shown its potential and how it can really be useful to everyone.
Nevertheless, technology alone won’t be enough to build a better world: you need people.
True intelligence lies in being able to use them and obtaining from them the best benefit possible for as many people as possible.