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> Proposal for a "Children Design the World" distributed conference <

There are many problems around, but some say 'let's focus in oportunities'. Children can be seen as an oportunity to themselves, and maybe to us. They can do amazing things such as ... learn and play.

I think children are underestimated. And so are adults.

First of all, an upfront disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Dr Edward de Bono's thinking tools. I knew about the tools a few years ago, volunteered to translate them into Spanish, and had the fantastic chance to contribute to people who wanted to know about them - specially the energetic people in the Dominican Republic (and others - they know who they are). But I know there are many ways to eat rice, as there are many ways to "think in teams" (some more productive than others). So you may want to use your own tools or no tools at all.

The suggestion here is that we might stirr some sort of "children design the world" conference - a "distributed", perhaps even "fractal" conference. Could it perhaps spread to different languages, if people care to do the translation?

We might go about it in many different ways, but this is what I've thought so far - I appreciate your ideas too!

The challenges would be separate:

- Set up a team of around four students, 10 to 12 years old. Team the students up with a grown-up who provides the internet connection through a blog. It should be a specific blog where the adult herself doesn't write her own ideas - just the children's ideas. The blogs would be updated once a week, or perhaps more often. Perhaps the adults can get one of Edward de Bono's books, or look into his "authorised website" for the on-line weekly lesson, and use that. (You may use it but you can't copy it around.)

- Each team should look around for other teams. They may "register" or otherwise show that they are into this initiative. They may provide a "story" so that other teams will leave a link as a reply. Perhaps they might choose to have a word or phrase in their blog - one that will show up in google searchs. They should also specify the country they work from. The specific "Conference: children design the world from" followed by the country would do. People would work in their own language but this "fishing phrase" would be in English. Each team would link to at least three other teams. If they link to many other blogs (more than three), they should specify which three are their "strong links". These "rings" should be open: it's not very good if each of four teams are linked to the other three - there must be at least one "outside link".

- The first activity would be one of setting up "tasks". Each team must write up a list of 5 to 15 tasks - they will be tasks for other teams. The tasks can be very vague or very specific. They can be problems, oportunities, or vague areas. Each team can look at the tasks from other teams and select or improve on them, make them more specific, etc. Just a recollection of such tasks does have some value. What are children interested in?

- After that, each team can select one task from each of their "strong links". That means each team has three tasks. They should tell the world what they have chosen to work on - using their own blog for that.

- Then the children think about the chosen tasks, in turn. The first week might be one of "information collection". They should try and be as objective as possible: feelings and guesses have no place here. If they are into 'de Bono thinking' they would use the White Hat. They should discuss what information they have and what they need, and how to get it. They would get the information and post their findings. If they are ignorant about something, they should say so. Maybe their readers have that information or can say they don't know it either.

- The second week might be one of "creative thinking". You must say you're being creative or otherwise people will jump on you immediately. Many people have seen a few adults do that. Ideas can be good or bad - there will be time for picking up the better ones, later. If you don't like an idea, just write a different one - so there will be more ideas. If you like 'de Bono thinking hats', this would be the Green Hat.

- All the time you can write comments in your "strong links" blogs. You can say which ideas you like and why, and which ideas you don't like and why. Perhaps there's an idea that you like and dislike at the same time, and you can say why. Your own group's ideas are open to scrutiny, so please treat people politely and sincerely: it's the ideas you're commenting on, not the people, because the other people are thinkers - just like you are a thinker. Perhaps you'd like to use de Bono's PMI exploration tool at this stage.

- If people use the above "fishing phrase", I guess "someone" will collect ideas and links, in a kind of "ideafest". Oh, by the way, ideas should be published under a "creative commons" license, so that others may collect them, improve on them, etc.

This is just a proposal. Of course, you may want to do something similar to what I've outlined here (or very different!), only off-line. You may have to do just that if you're in a place where the connection is not so good, or if you feel noisy contact is better than text contact. You may also want to use the "six thinking hats" and other tools in a very sistematic way, just like children all over the world play football in a very sistematic way. In any case, please share a summary in your blog, and connect to others.


Final note: This idea came to be partly because Natalie suggested I should push some initial idea for her Bloggers' Parliament initiative. I "met" Natalie through our contributions to Andrius' Minciu Sodas Laboratory. So, you see, there's this meme of contributing and linking everywhere!

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