My inspiration for creating Berlin: City of Reinvention

Dr Alexander Heinz is the last person on the right

Dr Alexander Heinz is the academic lead of “Berlin: City of Reinvention” and King’s Summer Programmes’ Associate Director for Research and Innovation

Three years ago, I wrote a new kind of short-term programme that combined what had fascinated me about current research in international education and my own personal experience. The programme was about the possibility of transforming the world through personal agency; but I called it “Berlin: City of Reinvention”. It has allowed over 100 King’s students from very different subject disciplines to spend a week of encounters and active learning in Berlin since.

Some of the genesis of the programme is very personal. I used to be a student myself in Berlin, once romantically in love and out of love with the city. Coming from a generation who was politicised by the fall of the wall, that most liberating and exhilarating of times that one can live through, I believe that Berlin is one of the places where students, who were born a decade after these events, can still discover and feel that initial sense of wonder and of human power to overcome what seems to be accepted in life. A recent US President said in his farewell speech, “the most important office in a democracy is being a citizen”. I have always believed that, perhaps also for all my student years spent as a scholar of the German National Scholarship Foundation, who gently instilled in us the ethos of taking initiative and of taking action for others.

Doris Sommer’s concept of civic agency and how art was a major factor in empowering us was a major influence for Sarah Williamson, Director of King’s Summer Programmes, and myself recently. The Humanities’ role in addressing issues in society is coming increasingly to the fore, in Germany the minister for education just last week announced a large Geisteswissenschaften programme to address issues of social cohesion, recognising the innovative potential of practical applications and hopefully an exciting opportunity for engagement with Germany in the future. At the same time, I build on my own research as a historian. I spent many years researching and writing a book on the stereotypes in Britain about Germans, and these perceptions are with us, in different formations, in all generations. Our learning about Germany will not be free from them; “the war” is still one of the first things that Generation Z Britons associate with Germany in our pre-departure classes. Nobody comes to this course as a blank sheet. It’s both astonishing and at the same time not a surprise at all. I wanted this course to acknowledge the ability for us to change how we think about things, even if our perceptions might be deep seated. Berlin with its broken history seemed to be the historical personification of this ability to change, to reimagine itself.

Yet, this is not a history course. The course is firmly in the present with its job market challenges, start up scene, refugee “welcome culture” or lack of. Berlin is not a beautiful place on the surface. Its main resource are its people. It reveals itself to the visitor, the temporary local, over time. “What makes Berlin’s citizenry so attractive”, our workshop in the middle of the week, is often a turning point for participants. A couple of sessions before, a discussion like this could not have happened. The centre of the course is in truth not Berlin either. It is easier if we first look at others, those Berliners and then think about ourselves. In reality, the course wants to be about each participant individually on this journey, and how we position ourselves vis-à-vis the situations we find ourselves in and the people who have power over us or who we have responsibility for. It is all too often not too difficult to say with hindsight, which side of history we would have stood on. Yet, when is resistance in our everyday required and legitimate, even though it might not be legal? The challenge is to think about our freedom for today in Britain, in our professional, social and our political lives.

The programme is thus challenging intellectually, physically and sometimes mentally, in a measured way. It has its painful moments and asks about the role of guilt to move on, the need for forgiveness to live in Germany, the responsibility of generations born long after an event. It is also demanding in other ways. It requires students not just to think as medics, as geographers, as scientists or literature students. It requires the courage to do so and the openness to listen. It asks of us to think about wider contexts and areas of our life that they might not have thought about, or not have talked about. Are the Stasi headquarters offices boring as the evil is banal? Is evil even the right word? Last year a student mentioned that she felt listened to for the first time in her life.

In the United Kingdom, the idea of creating international opportunities for non-traditional or first generation students is still a relatively new endeavour and the course is attracting interest from colleagues in this country and at large conferences internationally. Educationalists speak a lot about a sense of belonging at the moment. That sense might often have been there at school, but it needs to be built from scratch at university. I myself often felt that that sense would primarily come through making a meaningful contribution, but there are other, more effective ways of achieving this. We put a lot of emphasis on peer-to-peer support and learning in King’s Summer Programmes and the course is an opportunity to network and build friendships in a warm and safe atmosphere.

For many students on the module it is a first step to rediscover the power of the international in their own life and the cultural stake that they already have in it, perhaps in their own family history, that can serve them very well in the future. We are learning through looking at and encountering the lives of others and are arriving, with criticality, at a stronger self.

All this is exciting and we in Summer Programmes are set to continue to develop and refine this type of programming further in the future, using the academic disciplines within the College as a galvanising power. Berlin will remain a mirror, a destination, but there is so much more to discover on this globe and within ourselves.

Personifying the King’s experience

The teacher’s role in summer business education

Dr Andrew McFaull is a Teaching Fellow in Accounting and Finance in the King’s Business School. In the Summer, Dr McFaull teaches Business Management, International  Business, Accounting and Finance in London and Hong Kong.

Over the past few years of delivering summer schools here at King’s, it has become clear to me that the role of the tutor is much more than just teaching and is about delivering a memorable learning experience. The challenge for us as tutors and those who support us as we seek to offer a great summer school is to be aware of what kind of learning experience we want to offer.

To answer this question, I believe we need to view it from our students’ perspective and ask ourselves why would someone be willing to travel great distances, often at considerable expense to enrol for only two to three weeks in one of our short summer courses? As a business tutor, I would put this in business speak and term it our value proposition. Yet, what is it? In essence, why do large numbers of students come from across the world to our summer schools each year? It seems to me the only way to deliver the best possible programme of summer learning is to exceed our students expectations and to do that, we must first understand why they enrol on a summer school course.

It’s clearly not us personally as tutors that attracts the students. Regardless of our doctorates and other various learned credentials, it is safe to assume that none of our students will have heard about our teaching and/or research prior to enrolling upon our courses. Instead, it is almost certainly the opportunity to gain an education from an esteemed institution with a global reputation that attracts students in their hundreds year upon year. Therefore, we can perhaps conclude that the role of a summer school tutor is to personify the anticipated experiences and related expectations that comes with receiving an education from somewhere like King’s College London.

“I notice how much more heterogeneous the expectations of our summer students are.”

What complicates this process further is that this personification of a King’s education is not the same for all students and this is something I have increasingly observed of as I have been delivering summer schools on behalf of the business school. When I contrast my summer school teaching with our conventional undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, which I also teach upon, I notice how much more heterogeneous the expectations of our students are and we only have two or three weeks to fulfil and
hopefully exceed these expectations.

“Helping achieve long-term personal and professional goals”

As a broad generalisation, some enrol on our summer school programmes to advance their CVs and ultimately their future careers. Others are visiting us to be challenged intellectually and want a scholarly experience from one of the world’s leading universities. Then there are those enrolled on our summer school programmes who might be termed educational tourists, who are attracted by studying in different city or country for a few weeks. All these expectations are perfectly reasonable. Yet, the predicament we face when seeking to meet students’ expectations and hopefully exceed them to deliver a good summer school, is how do you deliver one course which meets many expectations?

The answer hopefully lies in the fact that each of these expectations mentioned before are not directly in conflict with each other and therefore by delivering in one area, we are precluded from delivering in another. Ultimately, in my mind, our goal in the summer school is to build a programmes of learning which is intellectually challenging, but simultaneously brings in both the King ’s and wider London experience and allows students to achieve their long-term personal and professional goals.

This brings me back to my original point that the role of summer school tutor is much more than teaching, it’s about cultivating a memorable learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom and this needs to be co-produced with the student, because ultimately it’s their learning experience.

Addressing the Signs of the Times

Dr Huw Dylan is a Senior Lecturer in Intelligence Studies and International Security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Dr Dylan is also a Visiting Research Professor at the Norwegian Defence Intelligence School, Oslo.

 

One of the most exciting things about the King’s Undergraduate Summer School is the variety of approaches to teaching and learning that students will experience. This reflects both the scope of subjects on offer, but also the energy tutors put into creating engaging learning environments. This entry, building upon our colleague Dr Diana Bozhilova’s blog post on teaching international relations in this series, offers a brief introduction to our approach to teaching Politics and the Media.

For those of us interested in politics and international relations it seems that not a day goes by without some controversy or other concerning what is the truth of a particular situation making the headlines in the press. From the competing narratives offered to the electorate in the BREXIT referendum, to the myriad debates concerning President Trump and words and deeds, to the running series of debates between Russia and the West over a number of issues, including the shooting down of MH17 to Russian involvement in east Ukraine, matters of strategic communication, allegations of propaganda, and charges of ‘fake news’ have come to dominate several areas of our political discourse. This course aims to place many of these issues in a deeper historical context, and to consider carefully how information and messages have been utilised by political power throughout history to further their goals.

Our teaching is based on our experience in the Department of War Studies. This department encourages an interdisciplinary and creative approach to studying conflict and war and all associated phenomena. We aim to combine teaching of core concepts and ideas, such as exploring the main theorists or thinkers of propaganda and strategic communications, in tandem with the conflicts or issues that they sought to influence at the time. And then to examine how these ideas resonate today in our contemporary debates. So, we will begin with the ideas of Gustav le Bon, and propaganda in the age of the Two World Wars, before moving on to the Cold War and the post 9/11 world. Students will engage deal with theory and practice, setting the scene for many of the issues we the class will consider during the latter part of the course.

The learning outcomes for this short course on Politics and the Media are centred upon the development of an understanding of key subject matter and fostering critical thinking. The class will consider the core components of propaganda and strategic communication narratives in various case studies. Many of these case studies involve campaigns that aimed to convert or entrench the political stance or the voting intentions of a large body of people, and have become contentious. Analysing the construction, delivery, and impact of these various campaigns will leave students equipped to more effectively engage with such campaigns in future, in particular with regard analysing and challenging the competing claims of ‘truth’. A key component of developing these critical skills will be an active consideration of the modern information environment and information technology, and how they both facilitate the propagation and the challenge of key messages.

Teaching International Relations for dynamic audiences

Dr Diana Bozhilova, Teaching Fellow Summer Programmes, brings her lively discussions on the theory and practice of International Relations to our London programmes through her annual contribution to the King’s Summer School Programmes. 

 

Political events “crowd” our lives with increasing dynamism. This leads to greater interest in the study of International Relations (IR) as a means to explaining ethical questions, consequentialist and deontological reasoning. As a result, normative IR is still very relevant but how do we teach it within short courses for highly mobile and technologically astute young audiences for whom time is of the essence?

Core concepts

My experience of teaching IR has been one of focusing on core concepts and methods. Short courses allow for selecting “relevant” blocks on which to scope attention in order to critically appraise a particularly impactful development in international relations. Take Brexit, Russia or China for example – separately, they challenge aspects of the liberal international order established during the “American” century and contribute to the sense that something rather big is afoot. For normative IR, this means a conceptual and methodological shift being under way.

Roadmaps

The learning outcomes for short courses in IR centre on developing critical thinking and analytical capacities that enable students to transform information flows into knowledge. I would never forget how on one of my travels to India and whilst occupied with thoughts about the impact of technology on the study of IR, a friend from Mumbai remarked: “Google cannot help find your slippers in the temple.” Technology is an information enabler but normative IR provides roadmaps that transform data flows into meaningful building blocks.

Application

Games and simulations increasingly infiltrate IR pedagogy. On the one hand, those opposed to such dynamic teaching models emphasise their inevitably reductionist approach to understanding normative IR through diminution of variables, thus confining discussions to basics at the expense of the vastness of paradigms and approaches that exist in the discipline. On the other hand, their great utility lies in adapting static theories to dynamic teaching models. This has a particular advantage for international audiences who would like to see how theories apply within different geographic and institutional settings. Simulations can involve structural constructs from diplomacy and negotiations, economic development and governance reforms, management of warfare and environmental crises. They are well suited to short courses, dedicated sessions, and blended learning models.

King’s Summer Programmes at EAIE 2018

King’s Summer Programmes will be participating at the 30th Annual EAIE Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland which will take place from 11th to 14th September 2018.

Dr Sarah Williamson, Director Summer Programmes, will be speaking at a leadership and strategy workshop titled Summer school euros: costs, resources and business models, where she will discuss different business models for summer schools, including their relative advantages and disadvantages and how to determine which model fits best with your institution’s strategic objectives. Dr Williamson is also a speaker at the session titled All eyes on us: how established summer programmes overcome challenges which looks at challenges facing successful summer schools.

Joint summer schools: Win-win or double trouble? is the title of our poster presentation by Dr Alexander Heinz, Education Programme Lead Summer Programmes, showcasing a live London–Amsterdam case study. He will also be participating in a networking and learning event known as the Summer Schools health clinic as a summer school doctor. We are very proud to announce that Dr Heinz has been voted as the incoming Vice Chair of the Summer Schools expert community, an EAIE forum for all things related to running and establishing summer programmes.

Ian Fielding, Deputy Director Summer Programmes, will be meeting with partners to discuss feedback and provide updates and developments on the undergraduate summer school and summer exchange programme. Ian would also be delighted to hear from other universities interested in our partnership agreements or our Summer School and Education Abroad planning and design services. Make sure you drop by our Summer at King’s exhibition stand (G22).

If you are not physically attending the EAIE conference and exhibition but still want to stay updated with our news you can follow us on Twitter @KingSummer. Further information about EAIE can be found here.

We are the city: King’s Summer Programmes in London

Dr Sarah Williamson is a university director, specialising in institutional business development with expertise in international education. She has 16 years creative programming experience in Higher Education, the last 10 of which have been spent leading and providing consultancy services on innovative institutional education projects that transform the educational portfolio of higher education institutions. 

At King’s College London, she is leading the university’s strategy to grow a summer portfolio of education projects on campus and overseas that support education abroad initiatives and research project knowledge transfer/public engagement intentions. Before this, she was the inaugural Head of Study Abroad (2009-14) and the architect of King’s study abroad strategy and programming.

Cities, like universities, are the sum of their parts and London, like King’s, is very much a product of its people. London’s citizens have long built bits on, growing the city outwards and upwards not on any grid system, but expanding it organically from its medieval footprint. London is not a city that was built then the people moved in; they built it from the inside out.

That’s the kind of city London is. It has a mindset that resists definition and a momentum that evolves in ways that are too exciting to be corralled. Just how London has been shaped and honed has become even more apparent in the last 20 years. Glorious, majestic spaces, like Somerset House, have been reclaimed as public spaces, becoming areas for public thinking and doing. Those reclaimed public spaces now influence public discourse and from there the city self-defines its future development. A city is a thinking space and the university within the city is an ideas lab, where those thoughts are grouped together to become ideas and shaped into actions.

Everyone who comes to London comes knowing it has a life blood that its citizens both create and draw from. This is what makes it such a strong magnet for creative thinkers and therefore creative learners. To be connected with and submerged into the flow of the city was always an elemental component in the makeup of our academic summer programmes at King’s. London is our classroom not just because it is our location; it’s because it is our inspiration and definition. It’s an ever-greater co-contributor to the summer classes in our sector-leading programmes.

For those seeking a starting point more profound than a traditional tourist route, having a chance to explore the city through applied study is strongly attractive. No student focused seriously on their academic career doesn’t think very carefully about how they, as global citizens, as global thinkers, will need to understand and use the city in their future as they become workers in their fields. But how to do this if you live elsewhere? What can you do to count yourself amongst the number of Londoners making waves in the world if your postcode is usually well beyond the M25? One neat answer is to join a summer programme at King’s. Short courses, run on King’s campuses over the summer season give a compact but powerful injection of intellectual rigour and dynamic personal development embedded so firmly in London’s ecosystems that your credentials as a Londoner become as established as they do as a King’s alum.

All of our 1,800 summer alumni this year will have explored their subjects with the help of London. Academic excursions, guest speakers from across London’s industries enrich the London campus-delivered academic content of courses. From the Victoria & Albert Museum, historic Fleet Street or crowded Brixton. A diverse range of places and encounters await the summer student and life-long Londoner alike. London can be a gateway to the wider world through its London headquarters of global powerhouses like the UN Refugee Agency, teachers on our Human Rights undergraduate summer school. Our popular and long-standing summer module “Museum of London: Curating the City” with daily sessions at the museum led by its curators, is a passport behind the scenes of one of the capital’s most innovative museums. What do the collections—ranging from art to architecture, fashion to film, music to media, giant fatberg!—tell us about London over the last century? What sorts of histories do these collections tell? What stories do they leave untold? Who are the people choosing these collections and making particular stories public? What is the impact of their decisions on London’s present-day reputation as a centre of creativity and cultural exchange?

For an intellectually challenging, often assessed summer school, this is never about glorified tourism. With its highly international King’s summer student population from more than 50 countries, London connections need to be academically meaningful and relevant. Rather, it is the case that lecturers explore their subject through the prism of London in undergraduate-level courses such as London & Film, where London as a cinematic city, the divergent spaces of London, and the capital’s relationship to film genres are explored in turn. Students reflect on the relationship between London, the advent of moving images and the birth of the cinema industry; the cultural role of cinema within the capital through the strength of its institutions, among them Film London, the National Film Theatre and the British Film Institute. London is both, a ‘realist’ and ‘fantasy’ wonderland. The evolution of London (as relayed on film) as a thriving urban space marked by increased gentrification, cosmopolitanism and architectural redevelopment is considered as well as the restaging of London’s cityscape as the set for blockbuster cinema.

Inviting new audiences to King’s, Dr Alana Harris, Lecturer in Modern British History and convenor of a group looking specifically at the integration of London in the learning experience, is this year for the second time leading a King’s Summer Weekend course with The National Archives. This weekend course is for everyone who wants to expand their research into their family tree. It combines instruction on practical researching techniques with academic insight into how key historic events shape stories across generations. Those that are interested can read more about this in a recent King’s SummerTimes blog post written by Mark Pearsall, one of the course contributors from among The National Archives staff. He describes how this summer collaboration led to a podcast on the Public Record’s Office history in what is now King’s splendid Maughan Library. The city defines its history through its people’s stories. The university defines the city through its understanding of those stories and equips its citizens to continue to draw out their ideas of how the city will evolve in the future.

Alongside the large King’s summer programmes, some of the biggest in Europe, a group of cultural intelligence courses offer invite student groups from King’s university partners to explore London’s people, institution and power in innovative ways. The rationale behind these courses is powerfully simple: they use the unique dynamism of the metropolis to empower students to reflect on their own agency and take steps to be empowered in their own lives back home. Long term Londoners come into the classroom and change perceptions. New Londoners soak up inspiration and ideas and carry a bit of London’s esprit de corps with them wherever they go next. We are the city and the city is us. #everybodywelcome #summeratkings

Unveiling the historical connection between King’s and The National Archives

Mark Pearsall of The National Archives works in Collections, Expertise and Engagement. He worked previously in Birmingham Local Studies library and city archives. He has worked in several departments at The National Archives since then, mainly in reader services and records departments. During that time he has produced various guides and finding aids to the records and a number of publications including “Family History Companion”, and co-authored “Family History On The Move” and “Immigrants and Aliens”. His research interests include nationality and citizenship, parish history and administration and local government and county administration. As part of his job he give talks to family and local history groups, and other organisations and societies about the records in The National Archives and how to access them.

Participants in the 2017 Family History summer weekend at the Maughan Library

King’s College London and The National Archives came together last year to hold a family history summer weekend in August. The first day was held at The National Archives in Kew and the second day at King’s. Maughan Library in Chancery Lane is the building that housed the former Public Record Office (PRO), predecessor of The National Archives until 1996. Whilst collaborating on the King’s Summer Weekend with Dr Alana Harris from King’s History Department, we developed the idea for a podcast on our institutional history in the old places that King’s now occupies. The podcast will be available from autumn to all King’s students, used in history teaching, but also available as outreach material to anyone in the King’s community. Last summer, we went to look at the Weston Room, which used to house the PRO museum, but which was built on the site of the medieval Rolls Chapel.

The Maughan Library, King’s College London

King Henry III founded the house and church of the converts (Domus Conversorum) in 1232 in the street called ‘Neustrate’. Chancery Lane was originally called the ‘New Street’ and was made by the Knights Templar to run from their Old Temple in Holborn to the New Temple by the river Thames. The buildings were erected in 1232-33 and two chaplains appointed and the first Jewish converts admitted. In 1371 William Burstall was appointed keeper of the house of converts and he repaired the house, chapel and other buildings at his own expense. Burstall also became keeper of the rolls of Chancery, and in 1377 the house of converts was granted by Edward III and confirmed by Richard II to the keeper of the rolls of Chancery. From then on the keeper of the rolls was also the keeper of the house of converts. The house became the residence of the keepers or Masters of the Rolls until 1837.

The Weston Room, the Maughan Library, King’s College London

The house of converts was pulled down and a new house for the use of the Master of the Rolls was built under the direction of architect John Campbell between 1717 and 1724. The Rolls Chapel was also repaired and improved at the same time. The Rolls House as the official residence of the Master of the Rolls became the main office of the new Public Record Office in 1838 and the Rolls Chapel had long been used for the storage of Chancery rolls. Most of the records were moved out on completion of the first block of the new record office in 1856. When the Public Record Office was extended in 1895 it was decided to demolish the Rolls Chapel. In its place a new museum was built of the same dimensions, and incorporating some of the monuments from the chapel. Three of the large monuments were re-erected, two of them in their former positions. Three memorial tablets were re-affixed to the walls and some of the old glass added to the windows on the south side. The burial vaults below the floor of the old chapel were enclosed in concrete. The new museum opened to be public in 1902 and is now the Weston Room of the Maughan Library.

Participants in the 2017 Family History summer weekend reviewing documents at The National Archives

King’s Summer Programmes and The National Archives will be holding their second family history summer weekend on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th August 2018. The course as last year is designed to stimulate and challenge the participants and take them beyond the computer and the basic resources of birth, marriage and death certificates, census returns, and parish registers. Much can now be done online to build up a basic family tree of names and dates taking you back at least to the beginning of the nineteenth, or the late eighteenth century. Going further back can depend on the survival of original records and knowing what resources are available to the researcher to augment the basic names, relationships and dates. The summer weekend will provide research techniques and academic insight.

On day one at King’s, Audrey Collins of The National Archives and Dr Alana Harris of King’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities will cover the fascination of family research to find the stories behind the names and dates, exploring key themes such as class, professions and occupations, migration and place, putting the family in its social context. At lunchtime we will take participants on a visit to the Maughan Library. After lunch, Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court will discuss the value and the shortcomings of DNA analysis in what proved last year to be a very stimulating and thought provoking session and should be so again.

The National Archives in Kew

Day two will be held at The National Archives, Kew where I will talk about undertaking research in the archives and there will be a behind the scenes tour. Audrey and Alana will run a session on female ancestors and how to trace their lives and put them into a social context. The afternoon will be given over to research in the archives and surgeries to discuss specific topics and research methods. We aim to inspire people to undertake further and more fruitful research into their family histories.

The registration deadline is 20 July 2018. For further information please visit the webpage.

NAFSA Annual Conference

King’s College Summer Programmes will be presenting at this year’s NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference on Thursday 31 May from 1:30 – 3:00pm. Dr Sarah Williamson, Director of Summer Programmes, and Dr Alexander Heinz, Lead – Summer Education Programme, will in an interactive poster presentation discuss ways in which new summer programming can transcend established notions of summer schools and enable universities to engage with non-traditional audiences. Click here to read more.

The NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo is the largest international education event in the world. Bringing in nearly 10,000 professionals from over 110 countries, NAFSA Expo Hall highlights the diverse and innovative programmes, products, and services advancing the future of international education and exchange.

If you are at NAFSA, pop by to speak one-on-one with our team.

Dr Sarah Williamson- Director of Summer Programmes, King’s College London

Dr Alexander Heinz- Lead Summer Education Programme, King’s College London

3D Printing in Summer Health Education

Kawal Rhode, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and head of Education for Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, talks to us about 3D printing, as a new aspect on the Undergraduate Healthcare & Technology, as well as Human Anatomy & Physiology Summer School courses.

I carry out research and teaching at King’s and have been working in the exciting area of additive manufacturing or 3D printing, as it is commonly known. 3D printing is used at King’s for research, education and also for clinical work at our partner hospitals. The technology has progressed rapidly over the last years and it enables 3D computer models to be translated into real physical models. For example, we see below how a computer model of a decorative ring has been used to produce the actual ring:

We have recently created a 3D Printing Education Laboratory at our campus at Guy’s Hospital for use by our healthcare students:

A series of hands-on sessions about 3D printing will be included in both of my 2018 Summer School modules. We will learn how to create both anatomical models from medical images and engineering models from computer-aided design (CAD) software:

Here are examples of heart models that were created by our current undergraduate students from CT images:

I am really looking forward to teaching our Summer School students about this exciting technology and seeing the 3D models that will be created by them.

Play and Creative Leadership

Untitled design

Michal Ben-David, Tutor –  London: Creativity, Innovation and Leadership for Beijing Normal University students –, explains the value of play in some of her workshops.

In general, people understand play as something that only kids do. The common view is that kids play, and adults do serious stuff, such as work and study. If adults play at work they may be accused of not behaving “professionally” enough, as they are supposed to produce results, and not spend their precious time on kids’ stuff, such as play. Nonetheless, I strongly believe in the power of play to unlock creative potential, and therefore I introduced the Lego Serious Play method, to my students from Beijing Normal University, during the King’s College London Summer Programme of 2017.

Lego Serious Play is a unique and innovative methodology, that utilises the same bricks that kids play with, in educational and organisational contexts, in order to unlock creative potential. While LEGO is mostly related to the world of kids, and while kids mostly build models of the tangible world, the Lego Serious Play is a method used by adults, to build models of the intangible world, hence of abstract ideas and concepts. In our workshop in August 2017, we addressed the topic of Creative Leadership. The students worked in teams and built models from the bricks, to represent their view of what creative leadership is. Each of their models was telling a different unique story, and at the end of the workshop, all the models and stories were connected together to create a shared narrative of leadership. I bring here this inspiring narrative, as it was told by the students:

“Our shared identity of creative leadership is based on values such as: bravery, kindness, communication and collaboration. We believe that a creative leader should encourage people’s exploration, freedom, and partnership. We value leadership that sees knowledge as important and helps people to be motivated, by fostering a family atmosphere, a great working environment and an amiable but strict authority. We believe that a good leader should have a clear vision and an ‘out of the box’ creative thinking. While freedom and democracy are important to us, law and order should be enforced by the leader. A good leader takes care and looks after the people’s needs in all aspects of life. While the leader has power, it is a controlled and checked power, which maintains an honest leadership.”

Although I have been a Lego Serious Play instructor for few years now, this particular workshop was special for me because of the sheer authenticity expressed through the stories of the students. While they were ‘playing’ the whole day, they were also unlocking their creative potential and discovering new things about themselves, as future creative leaders.