Today it was made official – the first book for teachers about value creation pedagogy will be released in April in Sweden. Unfortunately for non-Swedish, it will be in Swedish. The author is Maria Wiman, a teacher in Huddinge on lower secondary education level. I first heard about Maria when we sent out a call for good examples in practice of value creation pedagogy in 2015. Her name was mentioned, and it turned out that Maria had started working this way by chance about 5 years ago mainly through own serendipitous discovery. We soon found each other, and have kept in touch since then. Maria and her students were part of our largest study for Skolverket (Swedish National Agency of Education) on value creation pedagogy, and her teaching was among the best examples we found in the 19 schools around Sweden that participated. Our report to Skolverket in Swedish is available here. Results from this study are currently in review in a scientific journal.
Maria was interviewed by the publisher of the book, Lärarförlaget, and I have below translated her answers to a few basic but very interesting questions.
Making a difference for real
Q: What is value creation pedagogy?
Maria: It’s about creating something of value for someone else, finding a recipient and a situation outside the classroom where the knowledge has meaning and significance.
Q: Who should read this book and why?
Maria: I myself lacked a book when I started working this way. The book is for all teachers who want to find the motivation and make students think that school is fun.
Q: For which age is value creation pedagogy best?
Maria: I’ve primarily used it on lower secondary education level, but it works fine to start earlier, in primary school, and also to continue on upper secondary education level.
Q: Your class has worked with preventing hate on the internet, do you need a theme to work around? Or how do you get started?
Maria: You can absolutely start with a theme. But to get started I’d recommend to start small. When you’ve read a book, you can send a letter to the author and write about what you thought about the book. Or read aloud for preschool kids. Or write a fairy-tale to them!
Q: Do you work value-creating every lesson?
Maria: No – neither I nor the students would cope with that. But often, it is enough to have a project on-going in one subject. It spreads, and causes a positive impact also on the other subjects. My planning becomes easier, sterring documents and learning goals come to me, so that next step comes more natually.
Q: You give talks a lot both in Sweden and around Nordics, which questions do you get from the audience?
Maria: The most common question is: What do you assess? Then I answer that this is just ordinary teaching – we follow the same steering documents. In addition to my students’ knowledge and skills, I can also assess their entrepreneurial competencies.
Q: Is there any research on this?
Maria: Martin Lackéus has written a dissertation about the effects, and shows very positive impact in terms of how much student motivation increases, and that creativity and courage are stimulated.
Q: How has value creation pedagogy changed your role as a teacher?
Maria: Primarily it has made my job way more fun. It is a completely different “go” in the classroom, which spreads to both the classmates and to me. My students say about me: “Maria, you’ve become much more relaxed!”. Nowadays I dare to let my students’ ideas in, and that means everything. And when I look back – they are right. It was super boring in fourth grade…
Q: Your students that you’ve had since grade 4 will soon finish 9:th grade in the spring. What do you think they have taken with them by working value-creating?
Maria: With a risk of sounding prententious, I’m convinced that my students know how to change and improve the world. They have been given all the tools for how to use their creativity and their drive to make a difference for real.