Interview with Franco Soldi
Franco Soldi´s YPD helps the youth to discover their potential and develop new abilities through the implementation of the most innovative learning techniques that are focused on life experience.
By Juan E. Ballesteros
The need of overcoming the systemic crisis has been proclaimed many times, some people argue that it is absolutely necessary to change not only the productive model but the educational system. Do you agree? What should we change?
It’s a problem that goes beyond the crisis. To transform the educational system is crucial, simply because the world has evolved and changed so fast and the educational system clearly fell behind. It’s so obsolete that we need a drastic change in the form and the substance. We need to modify the way we teach since it’s not attractive for the intended audience (kids and youths). We should promote a new methodology that is based on the practice and it includes a more technological language. People usually learn more when they are not conscious of the fact they are learning. Entertainment is placed as one of the best language tools to teach. If we are not capable of being equal or more appealing and entertained than the PlayStation or Tuenti, then we have lost the war even before the first battle occurs. Regarding the substance, most of the educational contents should change as well. We need to work on social and personal abilities promoting carefully a balance between two elements: body and soul.
Is it possible to promote values that are apparently contradictory? Do we need to live through some eternal paradoxes such as productivity/sustainability? Social responsibility vs profits? Wellness vs cost reduction?
I think that it could be solved through a more simple approach: How could we achieve a social balance if we couldn’t find it within ourselves? The paradoxes wouldn’t exist if the system allows the people to exist freely. What I meant is that the promotion of some values will enable people to be more productive and auto- sustainable; people will have more conscience about social responsibility, will have more profits and essentially will be happier… Consequently, the system would get rid of the paradoxes. The key is to answer two questions -that summarize all the social problems we are facing currently- we made ourselves once in a while: Where am I? Where do I want to go?
Which are the causes of our high rate of school failure? What are we doing wrong? Why have we produced a neither-nor generation?
The educational system is really boring. This is the perception of many teenagers since they have a different approach to life: the way they interact with each other, how do they reason and talk. All of that is different. Their language has changed if we compare it with our generation. Teenagers socialize differently and they are able to manage much more information than us if we compared our context 15 years ago. The youths have lost interest about why is important to learn and which are the motivations to do it. Year after year, they have to face courses that don’t raise any interest. They would rather use a Blackberry or an iPhone because through these platforms they are able to get in touch with many things that are really appealing to them. They offer entertainment. Instead, in class, they feel frustrated and they are demotivated. What are we doing wrong? We are denying the existence of a real problem that is growing fast. And before our blindness: we keep denying that we need to boost not only a change and evolution of our educational system but a huge revolution. To do so is essential to invest time and resources since frustration is a feeling shared by students and teachers. Teachers don’t know how to connect with students and how they could motivate them.
You have affirmed that the educational system undermines and annuls creativity. Are we living in a society that encourages mediocrity?
I don’t see a clear relationship among these affirmations. We live in asociety focused on saying no. Since we are kids, we were accustomed to believing that a mistake implies a punishment. This premise could determine some behaviors: we are afraid of doing, trying or failing and, consequently, we don’t explore those natural elements in our lives, which are absolutely necessary for our personal, professional and creative development. This “I am not going to try” attitude is perceived at school, in businesses and even within the government… Mediocrity is more like an attitude towards life, which is promoted by a demotivation. It could be the result of not having an answer to the questions that we have previously mentioned: Who am I? Where do I want to go?
In Europe, the so-called “mileuristas” (people who earn €1,000.00 or less per month) are among the youths more prepared of the human history: they have college degrees, masters, have a solid command of foreign languages…However, they are condemned to work failure. Which are the reasons?
We shouldn’t generalize since it’s alarming. There are many opportunities outside for who wants to take them and pay the price. Who does want to earn more than one thousand euros? There are many ways of doing it. Are those options difficult? Yes. Are we going to have more competition every day? Yes. This crisis doesn’t close the doors; it opens them, but only for the people who dare to think different, the ones who bring new values and are ready to take some risks. The crisis is for passionate people who want to fight tooth and nails for their ideas. How many times have we heard about great opportunities produced by a crisis? The race for a fuller life has not become more difficult; simply, it is more interesting. It depends on your perception. Who thinks and believes that is condemned to failure, it is already defeated, even before it begins to go for it.
Journalists generally say that is necessary to go outside and tell what happens. You seem to agree with that. What does it mean to communicate?
It means to rise above my own self. Do you want to communicate properly? You have to go away from yourself. A message is not what the speaker wants to transmit, but what the listener perceives. If we are convinced that communication is originated within ourselves, we couldn’t become good communicators.
We as journalists understand how essential is to inform, educate and entertain. Are those three values important in YPD? Why?
Our methodology is based on two critical aspects: practice and entertainment. We don’t tell people how things have to be done. IN YPD we propose challenges; we allow the youths to discover gradually and personally which are the values, concepts, and abilities we want to teach them. All the reasoning and the possible conclusions are produced and adapted by them, in their own terms. This procedure is more natural and definitively more effective. This process has been executed through the most effective mechanism: entertainment. We have young talents that are asking their parents to be part of YPD as a gift for their birthday or Christmas. They are learning many things in our center, instead of playing video games, hanging out with their friends or just being connected to the Internet. We stand for something that motivates them; thus, we are beginning to win the battle against idleness. When was the last time we saw young people asking and wishing to be educated?
Should the education be elitist to guarantee success? Only the most talented people could triumph? To what extent is good to promote competition?
What is to triumph? What is success? Those words have too many meanings. YPD is focused on the people. We want that they could achieve a great future of happiness in which they could influence positively their context. No matter if you are a CEO of an IBEX company or if you are a florist or a cook; the crucial thing is to answer these questions: Who am I? Where do I want to go? You need to learn some abilities that will allow you to live and work doing the things you love. This self-knowledge and self-analysis process has nothing to do with being better or not; finally, the race is against us. If we think that triumph means being a CEO and earning $250,000.00 per year, we have a problem. Success comes from the individual satisfaction of having tried everything to do the best you can do. Success means to know yourself, which are your virtues and your limits, which are your life goals and how could you find happiness in the future. In this society, we don’t need successful people, we need happiness.
Which is the incidence of the new technologies in education? Is there enough investment in RDI Projects and TICs?
We invest not even a 10% of the minimum resources we should devote to these areas. An operation room has changed in the last 15 years, so did the surgeons. Why haven’t teacher changed in the last 300 hundred years? Why is so easy to replace a teacher in a public school? We need to count more on new technologies, the video games, social networks, and the Internet. We need a new educational system: hybrid and more technological.
One of the most efficient tools of YPD is the internet. How do YPD match internet and social networks with its training educational program?
We do have some progress on this matter, but we still have a lot of things to do. The crucial aspect is that we have begun this path. Nowadays, most of the experiences promoted by YPD are widespread through Tuenti, Facebook or Twitter. We post some group dynamics that include videos, games, challenges, ideas, and concepts created by YPD. Those activities need a space on the web. We could mention two ideas developed by teens of 14-18 years old during our YPD Summer Camps. Their concepts are related to a new educational system that is beginning to gain some strength on the net: the teens involved in these projects have developed Money 4 Something [Ideas on how to make the school more appealing] and 4Education [Reflection on how they can construct the keys of their education]. These are the first steps done by our youths. YPD counts on a unique online project and we are planning to launch it sometime during the next three years. It’s a hybrid experience composed of video games, social networks, in-class activities, and open activities for free. Nowadays, we are trying to get the funding for the development of the first phase.
YDP is developing the potentialities of our kids. Are our companies ready for a generational replacement? Is there a gap between digital natives and digital immigrants?
We want to focus on a neglected group: teens from 14 until 18 years old. A young student of 18 years, after having attended our two years YPD course, will be more prepared to pursue its development, at a personal and professional level. Why have we chosen that age range? Because we believe that is essential to complete the formation of our students before they begin college: in this way, they can get the most out of this experience. We are currently developing a program for college students –in their third/fourth year- with the goal of inserting them in the labor market through the development of some abilities they don’t learn in their formal education. Today, all the youths are digital natives and the generational replacement in the companies will be executed in a logical and natural way, as it has always happened.
Facebook: Franco Soldi