Action Learning – Beyond AI
A Character Education Resource
By Dr Charles Margerison
It is several decades since Google was launched in 1998, and the process of accessing information was transformed. Now, there are fast emerging competitors, as organizations develop expert systems that act as virtual authors.
I founded one of these over a decade ago. Thanks to our talented colleagues at the Amazing People Schools (APS) organization, it is now being used internationally to support student personal development and proactive mental health.
The APS Character Education Resource is a specialized online expert system that supports students, their teachers and parents.
Rather than just provide a report, or take over as a virtual letter-writing assistant, the APS system encourages students to develop their character strengths and learn by taking action.
For ease of reference, 24 key activity areas are focused on.
These include –
Adaptability – Courage – Creativity – Curiosity – Empathy – Enthusiasm – Fairness – Gratitude
Humility – Integrity – Kindness – Open-mindedness – Optimism – Perseverance – Resilience
Self-Discipline – Teamwork – Tolerance – Wisdom
Building on the positive psychology research of Seligman and his colleagues, we have developed specialized applications. These are available on the website www.amazingpeopleschools.com
Our philosophy is based on the principle that we all learn from the application of knowledge. This is the case when it comes to cooking, driving a car, playing tennis, and every skill we develop. For example, we all have learned a language by listening to and using the words given to us by our parents.
Expert systems can speed up our learning by making the knowledge more easily available. An example is the way my granddaughter, aged seven, is teaching herself to play the piano. She follows and replicates the visual instructions from a software system on her mobile phone.
The APS Character Education Resource adds an extra dimension. Instead of it being just an introverted individual resource, it helps students to learn with and from each other via group discussions and exercises.
This is essential for any character education. Every day our character is demonstrated and tested in our interactions with family, friends, colleagues and society in general, in various settings.
We provide a range of interactive applications to help students develop their creativity, perseverance, teamwork, fairness, adaptability, and other character strengths, through action learning.
In the process, they comprehend from experience what cannot be gained from a book or a computer. They learn the practicalities of time management, persuasion, negotiation, team problem solving, and in particular, how to manage complex issues that require constructive thinking and judgement.
Amazing People Exemplars
We support these self-development factors by providing access to short inspirational life stories of amazing people who successfully dealt with such challenges. For example, the students can access the life stories of Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind. She became a champion for the disabled. They can learn from the life of Thomas Edison who became a prolific innovator despite not being able to attend school after the age of seven.
In this way, the students see the ways by which character influences achievement and standards of life. We encourage students to adopt what we call the ‘can do spirit.’ This is learned, rather than taught. Students are asked to reflect on their action and experience, and to indicate their ‘can do’ ideas and actions. Each student is encouraged to learn from action.
The APS Character Education Resource has been developed for use on a whole school basis with students from early years through to secondary. It has been adopted by schools in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Emirates, and mainland Europe. Therefore, it has proven relevant and applicable to curricula in many locations.
The resource is now part of the education provision in over 100 schools. In addition, through workshops and conference presentations, educators are sharing classroom applications.
Currently, over 100,000 students have access to the website, which has won awards for both primary and secondary wellbeing, and has also been given the prestigious kitemark as a Company of Character from the Association of Character Education. APS has also entered an international distribution partnership with Skolon, and a commercial branding partnership with Events Management.
Educators are looking for educational resources that enable students to use edtech expert systems as a basis for character education. They want students to be proactive experiential learners, rather than reactive passive learners.
The APS Character Education Resource supports and facilitates these objectives. Education is more than helping students memorize information to pass examinations. It is recognized that artificial intelligence systems will provide instant data and advice. Therefore, the focus in schools will be to help students develop their character strengths for both their careers and life.
Our educational resource has proven that it helps teachers and parents to support the development of character strengths. It is therefore planned to make the resource widely available initially in the English language and, via partners, in other languages.
The APS Character Education Resource distribution rights are held by Amazing People Schools Ltd, a privately owned UK based company.
To expand the use of the resources in schools worldwide, the company is keen to explore commercial links and alliances.
For further information, please contact Ms Frances Corcoran, CEO, Amazing People Schools Ltd, at – Frances@amazingpeopleschools.com