This morning in a meeting with Professor Imamura Hajime from Toyo University and Jon Ander Musatadi from GLOW cooperative and Mondragon Team Academy, Jon explained the need to help people unleash their creativity using an equation.
Instead of 1+2=3, rote learning, or 1+ X = 3, where "finding the unknown" is just a matter of filling in the answer dictated by the problem, think of learning as X + Y = 3, that is, an infinity of different possible combinations, different ways to reach a given goal. As cooperative entrepreneurs, the students and coaches at MTA value innovative solutions.
For them, learning is, in part, about getting away from the standard thought patterns and usual answers and being creative and inventive, but also productive. There are many possible paths, but there is a specific, measurable, outcome. The process of finding and choosing among alternative ways is democratic and participatory. The goal, however, is given at the outset and students are free to explore and try out different paths. It is not a trick, the students really have freedom to find different ways to the goal.
I wonder, though, if the better learning metaphor isn't X + Y = Z, that is, a process in which not just the means but the goal is to be determined by the participants, with the same freedom and creativity, democratically, through collaborative exploration and action. Not only innovative thinking is required but also dialogue that addresses the values and principles at work or, put another way, long term strategic goals.
The coach's job is to keep students on their path by means of artificial restrictions and requirements, but the goal of learning must remain freely determined by the students -- not without the coach, but on an equal footing with the coach.