Category

education

Curious Companies

By | Curiosity, education, Magical Moments, Priya, Uncategorized, What's new?, Wonder

Since Abracademy has been running corporate workshops, we’ve noticed certain commonalities among our clients. Our Mind Master / Head of Learning, Priya Ghai, looks into her crystal ball and shares what she sees…

First and foremost, they are companies and organisations that dare to dream. They dream of a more powerful and magical way of undertaking professional development. One where people feel valued and their thoughts, experiences, and emotions are welcome.

Tell us more about the dreamers

The dreamers are the people willing to take a new approach to learning, to take what might seem like a risk. But actually they know it’s an investment – in engagement, laughter and connection over box-ticking. The dreamers can imagine learning programmes that allow people to know how to do their job better and also to feel that they can do it better. They know that the right mindset is the way forward for any life-long learning. A mindset that allows people to take control of their development rather than feeling it’s in someone else’s hands.

The dreamers are creating companies focused on learning and exploration to enable a positive culture. Cultures where people can experience joy, be vulnerable and believe in what they do.

They are also looking for something fresh in their approach to learning. Our clients want the special magic that creates lasting memories for participants as well as movement within the company.

What’s driving companies to take a new approach to learning?

We know that learning and development needs to change. The world of work is changing so fast that we can’t expect things learned a year ago to still be relevant today. This quick, volatile and ever-evolving world means that what, and how, we learn needs to evolve too.

Learning has to be holistic. It must work for the whole person – emotions, perceptions, ideas and needs – not just for our brains. It’s about realising that we are much more than machines fulfilling a role and producing work. When nurtured in the right way, humans have fantastic capacity for creativity and collaboration.

Creating life-long learners is key. People should be able to learn in workshops and beyond. For this reason, Abracademy workshops develop people’s capacity to wonder and reflect. We want people to think about the workshop experience, apply what they’ve learned at work and keep developing. Participants will learn the perfect balance of humility and confidence, whilst continuing to explore their growth. 

This brings us back to the concept of the right mindset for learning – our workshops are spaces to develop the mental models needed to become life-long learners.

Thirdly, our clients are curious – to harness the power of group dynamics and for a deeper understanding of creative processes. It’s increasingly understood that employees are the lifeblood of any company and our programmes instil new energy. We unlock employee potential – vital to the health and progress of any organisation.

What makes a company curious?

They’re companies that are able to work in an agile way. They pilot programmes, learn from them then develop what they need. We love working with companies like this, it ensures that what we do is fit for purpose now, not for last year’s purpose.

These companies understand that their people need more than a revolving door of hard skills. They must believe in themselves and in each other, and they want to feel that the company believes in them too. Getting to the root of what people need enables us to develop programmes that stick and create memorable (and of course, magical!) moments. 

How does Abracademy make learning magical?

Our learning philosophy is based on developing two core mindsets that unlock the magic of a company through its people. The mindsets are Belief and Wonder – inspired by magic of course!

Mindsets are muscles that need to be developed. Our Magical Moment workshops flex these muscles. We look at each mindset from a different angle and develop the skills, and behaviours, that bring it to life.

Our learning philosophy is also holistic, centred on peoples’ many and diverse needs. We use experiences as a method of unpacking and reflecting on learning. And, most importantly, we use magic to stimulate the brain by adding surprise, joy and vulnerability into the learning space. Magic is the perfect way to be in direct contact with the feeling of not knowing something. Leave your ego at the door and open up to explore the unknown in service of growth. 

Thanks to Priya Ghai for chatting learning and magic💡

Below is a short interview with Jay Pepera – Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Omnicom Media Group – talking about her Abracademy experiences. Thank you for unleashing your magic with us Jay!

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Is there a place for magic in the curriculum?

By | education, What's new?

What a pleasure it was to perform and teach magic to the wonderful students of St. John’s school in Sevenoaks. The students, aged around 11, took to magic like fish to water and their enthusiasm not only for magic but for the process of learning was electrifying.

The teaching staff at St. John’s prides themselves in their ability to educate their students for life. As a school they’re highly creative in how they approach learning, and are always looking for new and innovative ways to teach beyond the in-class curriculum. This task, according to Head Teacher Sally Quirk, ‘is quite a knack.’

In the pursuit of active learning, we at Abracademy believe that magic is an ideal medium. But would an experienced teacher agree? We caught up with Sally to talk about all things education, learning and whether or not there was a place for magic and its principals in the educational curriculum.

Sally described the process of learning magic as having an ‘immediate something.’ Magic is normally seen as a purely entertaining experience, but Sally added that through this experience, it encompassed many principles ‘that the children would be able to take forward as a way to develop life skills.’

Magic’s ability to ‘disguise’ learning is particularly valuable for older children, for whom it’s seen as a major challenge to ‘engage in perfecting speaking skills and listening skills.’

As Sally puts it, ‘magic all about storytelling, projecting your voice and using body language, three skills which are more likely to be taken on board by a child if they have a purpose behind doing it, like performing a trick.’

Speaking and listening, a major part of the curriculum, are two skills that magic can enhance, but even further than that, magic allows children to develop a repertoire of sorts. Too often these days, with the advent of technology, young people aren’t collecting skill sets through play as they may have done on rainy days pre-internet.

Sally recalls her son learning to juggle from a young age, learning first with three then four then more balls, with which he would impress his friends and family. ‘Although he doesn’t juggle quite as much as he used to, it’s just another skill in his repertoire and it makes him more likely to add to it’. Magic also parallels Sally’s belief in experimentation in the learning process. St. John’s operates on the belief that ‘you may not know how to do something, yet, but you will, it’s a question of what’s the next step.’

This is the process for learning and developing magic tricks, especially when there are so many moving parts from storytelling to personal presentation skills, entertaining to understanding your audience. It’s all about experimentation. At the same time, magic gives children the ability to work on their social skills in the same breath as creating a focus and helping to develop empathy for others.

As human beings, stories are how we make sense of the world and in its simplest form magic gives children the permission to be as creative as they like with the stories they tell. ‘It gives them a starting point, something to hold onto, a reason to tell the story,’ says Sally. As a result, their confidence and self-esteem is boosted.

Of course, the experience is different for each child. As Sally notes ‘give a matchbox to ten children and ask them to tell a story about it, you’ll hear ten different stories.’ Magic as an outlet offers children the opportunity for creative self-expression that they may not find, or have the confidence to develop, in the classroom. The absence of grading removes the fear of judgement and failure, and so the child can explore their creativity in pure play.

So will we ever see magic in the curriculum? Perhaps not in its pure form… yet. But from the experience we had with this great group of students, the benefits of magic are plain to see. Ta-da!

Alex Pittas
Head Magician

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