Authentic Relationships

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving an introduction for teachers of the Willem de Kooning Academy during the opening of the ‘Drive & Development Week’. The event was organized by the Education Station. Our goal was to stimulate the exchange of ideas between teachers beyond the boundaries of disciplines or departments. The topic of the event was project-based-education.

In my introduction I shared personal experiences and ideas about crossing borders and learning from ‘the other’. I think it’s often difficult to let go of our own ideas, and to remain open and curious to others. It’s difficult and important.

I believe if we want strong departments; we must create strong department-teams. If we want a strong academy; we must built a strong community. And if we want to make a difference in the world of art&design; art academies must collaborate beyond borders.

Collaboration to me implies building authentic relationships. These are relationships that are: sustainable, honest, and can at times can be painfully open. If we choose not to built authentic relationships; we deprive ourselves the opportunity to learn. In my presentation I phrased it as: “we will be no more effective than a ‘bunch of beautiful frogs”.

I presented the example of the ‘global goals‘. In September 2015, the leaders of all 193 member states of the United Nations defined 17 specific goals. One of their aims for example is to make an end to poverty. “Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone.” (globalgoals.org). To end poverty in this world takes more than one country can ever accomplish. I believe ‘a bunch of beautiful frogs’ can not accomplish this.

The question is no longer about who you are, but what you can bring to the table that will bring us forward. The concept is simple, not easy. I was excited to have teachers from different departments together collaborating on finding answers to improve our project-based-education.

At the Education Station we provided six workshops and finished with a shared lunch for all participants. There will be 2 more meetings during the academic year. We will present a publication of the outcome of these 3 events in July 2019.

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