Ikigai in Learning: Nurturing Passion in Schools

Matthew Borg understands how essential it is to blend ikigai into teaching methods. He thinks it's valuable to do action research in schools, encouraging everyone to keep learning. As schools change, they let students control their learning based on what they're passionate about, which might shape their future.

Nurturing students to grow into the adults our society needs

Nick: It's interesting you mentioned pedagogy, and probably a lot of people don't really understand what that means. But I'd like to pull a quote from Professor Hasegawa, who was actually the first podcast guest, and he has this quote, as ikigai can be a guideline for the individual's way of life. It is a topic for interdisciplinary research in psychology, pedagogy, and philosophy.

And so pedagogy obviously refers to education and how you educate. Do you think there should be more research into perhaps tying ikigai to pedagogy for teachers and school leaders, such as yourself?

Andrew: I think, more importantly, more action research on the ground is so imperative within our schooling environment, because we're such a fluid community at the moment. Things are just essentially, the rate of change and improvement has just been gradually getting greater and greater.

It's really important that we're doing action research on the ground, and that's something that I hold quite strong—the idea of educators, teachers, principals, school leaders, being educational researchers from the day they walk into a classroom, and being able to apply that educational research and learning they've done on the job to improve student outcomes across the board.

And being able to do that is adjusting a pedagogy. The way we teach, pedagogy is just a fancy word, I think, for the way that we actually teach students and children. And part of that key to some real progressive ideals around innovative pedagogy is around letting go a little bit more and being able to let the students lead their own learning to be able to have that sense that we're all learners in this space, including the principal of the school all the way to the canteen manager, we are all continuous learners.

It is something that actually makes us innately human is that we do not stop learning. And humans have this profound capacity to continue learning all the way up until the very last day. And I think being able to embrace that and understand that, is a way forward for every educator to influence their own teaching practice, it's really difficult to be innovative in a very restricted world of particularly government schooling.

And sometimes it takes a disrupter or innovator to be able to provide something different with some real evidence and data backed performance measures that can actually indicate there is a better way, and just being able to be brave enough to for our community to take those steps forward, in thinking, there is an alternative to traditional pedagogy, which we've been offered, and being able to demonstrate the outcomes in which that we can produce which are happier students, students who are engaged, students who come to school every single day, knowing and wanting to learn, and more importantly, parents that are really happy and have the trust in us to nurture their most precious commodities in the world, each and every day within our school environments.

And that's something that I think the COVID pandemic taught us—that schools aren't just this vessel of traditional academic learning, we're actually places of connection with places where we can actually nurture students to grow into the humans and adults in which our society needs to improve the future.

And a lot of the time, there's some alarmist theories around kids these days, you know, not as great as the next generation or not as great as the generation before, I can tell you with absolute confidence, it's giving me goosebumps now that the children of tomorrow are ready and raring.

These individuals come innately and profoundly knowledgeable compared to us in the past, they do their own research, at home, they are constantly being able to research what they're most interested in, where their curiosity leads them. And it's about actually embracing those learning concepts that they want to do for themselves relating to their own ikigai, and then being able to actually put those into practice that same sort of framework and concept to something which will help them for the future, but they just don't know it yet.

So it's an energizing space to work in when you’re working with young people. When you see the future is so bright with these young people ready to take on whatever the future holds.