24 March 2021
One of the main pillars of PotePillars, the strategic plan of our School, is the Learning Culture Concept, the elements and elaboration of which are dealt with by eight working groups in the frame of continuous workshop. Their goal is to develop a new learning culture and commitment tailored to the School, and to create the transition from a teaching culture to a learning culture. They offer a new way of thinking, they are developing various methodologies, giving teachers, students, and administrative staff the opportunity to try new models. The professional leader of the concept is dr. Zsuzsanna Füzesi, full professor at the Department of Behavioural Sciences, with whom we have summarised the events of the past months and talked about the topicalities of their appearance in our virtual hall, the POTE VR Gallery.
Written by Rita Schweier
- How would you summarise the essence of the Learning Culture Concept?
- Before anyone misunderstands, the Learning Culture Concept is not addressed to students only, in fact, we can say that in the first place mainly it is not them to whom it is addressed. Learning - if we traditionally think of it as “school-like” - is considered to be the students’ task. However, teachers are no longer the sole holders of knowledge and knowledge materials cannot only be found in treasured, scholarly books. The experience of learning and the acquisition of knowledge have long gone beyond the walls of classrooms, schools, universities, if you like, these have democratised. The essence of our new concept is that we want to switch from a teaching culture to a learning culture, which requires a significant change of attitude and effort from both teachers and students, but also from colleagues who support education.
- How realistic are these ideas in the period of a pandemic and a model change?
- When we think of a new kind of learning culture, we naturally have to think about what we can do, what we can possibly do, and what we want to do. Now I see that what we want is present much more strongly, even if the external conditions do not seem to be the most favourable. I could even ask: when were they ideal? However, if we reframe it, it can also be seen as an unscheduled learning opportunity. During sudden changes, after the first shock, people are able to mobilise their creative energies as well. We see the changes in educational needs in the world, we are able to respond to them and we can also learn from our mistakes. What is it, if not learning agility, that is, a kind of intelligent responsiveness that is essential to successful organisations?
Together with the leadership of the School, I believe that if the goal is good, if it is attractive to many people, then the intention to want to do it will become stronger. Because there is an amazing internal resource, intellectual potential at this School, in the people who work and study here, we will be able to do it. The Learning Culture Concept provides a framework for this, offers realistic, feasible models, but does not set deadlines or impose obligations.
- What can make the ideas formulated in the Learning Culture Concept attractive?
- There are many teachers and students who are not completely satisfied with our current teaching-learning practice, even if the quality of our degrees is good and our graduated doctors stand their ground everywhere. I often ask myself the question: if I were free to choose, would I choose myself as my own teacher? Would I attend my own lecture, course? If my answer is uncertain, I think about how to make my lessons more up to date, more exciting, more joyful, both in terms of content and methodology, that is, I urgently “upskill”. It does not mean that there is no stable knowledge that I want to pass on, that I do not like and apply traditional forms of education, or that I do not see its raison d’être in many areas, but it is also clear that this alone is not enough in the 21st century.
Pedagogical diversity in thinking, approaches, methods has become inevitable. That is, “what” we teach is still important, but the “how” is also at the forefront. Serious changes are needed in both dimensions and these are served by the open system presented in the Learning Culture Concept. It can also be motivating that people prefer interesting tasks, i.e., an activity (be it teaching or learning) rich in exciting, varied, unexpected twists is attractive even if not every change is simple.
- Eight working groups are mentioned in the document. How are the working groups structured and who are the members?
- The aim of the working groups is to integrate the activities taking place in the Learning Culture Concept into a system. These teams work independently and together as well. Their areas of activity include the foundation of the concept, organisational culture and personality development, the strengthening of student commitment and responsibility and the engagement of teachers. The development of motivation systems is related to the latter, making teachers interested in this process. Elements of the concept’s implementation included the development of pedagogical methodologies, the creation of digital learning spaces, PotePedia, and last but not least, the development of international relations. The system is open, and a new working group is emerging as well.
- How do these teams work in practice?
- The leadership acts only as a catalyst in the background. The working groups are self-organising and goal-oriented, and their skills and motivation are the keys to success. This is only possible if we let them think, decide, and act freely. I see that people are not selected or remain in the process based on who is willing to carry out the dean’s instructions but based on who believe in the same thing. This means the values and goals of the School, even if these are approached in many ways. In other words: those who put their hearts, souls, knowledge, abilities fully in the tasks and at the same time are willing to develop as well. I have to say that amazingly super teams have been created with great leaders. I am sincerely grateful and thankful to them. It is impressive that most of them, in addition to their plethora of activities, see it as a creative activity rather than a burden.
- What new opportunities await those interested in the concept in the near future?
- Honestly, Learning Culture is not a festival programme where professional and well-paid event organisers offer a number of colourful programmes and we just stroll between the stands, getting a glimpse of the repertoire. Even if we are going to introduce ourselves in the POTE VR Gallery this way. Our undisguised goal is to find partners for this adventure. We do not offer ready-made recipes but with the initiatives there we encourage those interested to try these and help us decide between the options. We do this in such a way that we do not take over the decision or its responsibility on behalf of either the teachers or the students. I do not think it is surprising what I am saying: no matter what we do, we have the decision and the responsibility, we are just not aware of it enough. I am not familiar with a learning concept of similar significance in Hungary where we invite all the actors of the organisation as partners to think together, develop together, to joyful togetherness, development, and learning.
- Can we even consider this a "market interest"?
- Yes, it is, and the quality of human life, the "value added to us".