How we educate at Agora International School Barcelona to adapt to a VUCA environment

Today, more than ever, we realize that we live in a changing world, which has been called VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) and in which we have to live, work and shape. Educating in a world with these characteristics is also a challenge to wh

What is a VUCA environment?

A VUCA environment is the environment in which we operate today and is often used to define the ecosystem in which organizations develop today. It is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The origin of this concept dates back to the 1990s and was coined by American soldiers. Its acronym corresponds to the English acronym formed by the terms Volatility (V), Uncertatinty (U), Complexity (C) and Ambiguity (A).

Why do we say that we educate in a VUCA environment?

We live in an environment that is uncertain, complex, volatile and ambiguous, so we have to educate so that students can adapt to it. It is necessary to train our students with an educational project and tools that will allow them to adapt to this ecosystem, that will provide them with a great capacity for adaptation and allow them to develop with ease.

We must prepare students for jobs and technologies that do not exist today, to solve problems that have not yet been foreseen. We must encourage them to take charge and shape their own future.

How do we educate in a VUCA environment?

The educational project of Agora International School Barcelona is defined by 5 distinctive elements: the International Baccalaureate as a model for the future, multilingualism, music, sports and the commitment to provide our students with the tools to grow as global citizens capable of shaping the world.

Adaptability, so necessary for a VUCA environment such as the one we find ourselves in, also goes hand in hand with innovation: “Innovation is being able to adapt to the changing conditions of the environment,” says physicist, graduate in modern and contemporary history and expert in educational innovation Carlos Magro. In our school, innovation in the way we educate is key: we encourage students to think independently and to conduct their own learning guided by their teachers, students participate actively in classes, analyze what surrounds them, dialogue from respect and tolerance with their peers, work in an experimental, multidisciplinary and collaborative way and value the culture of effort. The teacher motivates and guides this development of the educational process so that students find the answers by themselves, building their own knowledge that helps them to function in the real world. We offer a multilingual educational project, with linguistic immersion beyond English, which allows them to master the official languages along with English, French, German or Chinese, which helps them to be aware of cultural differences through the learning of a second language and allows them to relate to others in an increasingly globalized and changing world, also helping them to achieve their goals in an international context.

In addition, in our schools we are very committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, since in this environment and changing world in which we operate, we believe it is necessary to bet on sustainable development and raise awareness among our students of its importance. As part of this commitment, we have reached agreements with internationally renowned organizations such as Eco-Schools and WWF (World Wildlife Fund), promoting global classroom projects that involve all our students, teachers and parents to mobilize a community of more than 100,000 people. We also participate every year in international events in which students from all over the world, from the different schools of the Globoeducate group of which we are a part, come together. In this way, students share their knowledge in an atmosphere of healthy competition and exchange their projects and answers.

Another value that is important to cope in a VUCA environment is solidarity, because when it comes to a changing and ambiguous environment we believe that being empathetic and having a spirit of solidarity is of great help to deal with any situation. The students collaborate in different local solidarity initiatives, collaborating with organizations such as the Food Bank of Sant Esteve Sesrovires or the CRIS Against Cancer Foundation

All these types of initiatives and agreements are aimed at educating students who are committed to the world and to the great challenges of our time, who are adaptable and aware of their responsibilities as human beings, qualities that go beyond academic success.

The multilingualism that we offer and develop in our school is another key tool to educate students prepared for a VUCA environment, as it gives them the possibility to communicate more and better with people of different nationalities, teaches them to appreciate and respect different cultures, to become aware of the globalized world in which we live and all this accompanied by values that we emphasize and that we consider fundamental: commitment, empathy, respect and responsibility to build a better world based on mutual understanding.

We know that the characteristics of the VUCA environment in which we live are often disconcerting and fears, worries and uncertainties may arise that not only our teaching team helps to face: we have a psycho-pedagogical office to guide and advise parents, students and teachers

Advantages of learning to function in a VUCA environment

  • Versatility: our educational project encourages students to be versatile and to be able to adapt to different contexts, which is undoubtedly an advantage for their lives.
  • Adaptation to change: we live in a changing environment and this year, without a doubt, we have been more aware than ever. Educating students to be able to adapt to change is a very useful tool that benefits them in their daily lives.
  • Critical thinking and effort: we encourage the development of critical thinking in our students and that requires effort, but this effort to commit to an educational project that prepares students for a globalized world is, in the long run, a great advantage: “When we teachers say that in order to learn you have to make an effort, we do not want the student to suffer. On the contrary, we consider it rewarding. Facing a challenge and overcoming it provides an important personal growth” defends high school teacher, musicologist and writer Alberto Royo.
  • Values such as tolerance, respect and solidarity: the world in which we live, the future in which our students will develop today needs tolerant, committed, caring and respectful citizens, and these are the pillars of our educational project.

“The purpose of education is not to develop their intelligence, to socialize them by integrating them into a culture, or to train them for the labor market. It is that and much more. The aim is to help the child to develop a successful personality, capable of taking advantage of his possibilities, choosing his goals well, striving to achieve them, enjoying opportunities and enduring conflicts,” says the Spanish philosopher, writer and educator José Antonio Marina, and that is, after all, educating for a VUCA environment such as the one in which we live.

22 / 02 / 21