Reinventing the old fashioned? Cometa’s educational approach seen by European visitors

Cometa, Oliver Twist School in Como. Something fascinating happened during the 2nd transnational Meeting for the European project called Leadership for Learning. We had the opportunity of being observed by a group of teachers and team leaders from Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Hungary. There were five main aims: developing a transnational network between leaders in VET; exploring, describing and exchanging different types of leadership of learning practices; identifying leaders and teachers’ leadership skills; discussing visions for future leadership in VET.

Cometa Educational Approach. A report on Oliver Twist School

On February 20th 2018, Cometa Formazione and Cometa Research organized the Conference “The Cometa Educational Approach”. It has been the official presentation of the Report promoted by Fondazione Agnelli and realized by Gaia Banzi (Università Milano-Bicocca) on the analysis of the Cometa educational approach and its transferability. Prof. Susanna Mantovani (Università Milano-Bicocca) gave her scientific supervision. Speakers of the conference included the international contribution by Shyamal Majumdar (UNESCO-UNEVOC) and Mariavittoria Garlappi (ETF Foundation). 

We are happy to share the conclusions of the report on this blog. The complete version (ITA and ENG) of the report can be downloaded here .

The Pedagogic Function of Reality in Progressive Vocational Education: the Case of Cometa Formazione

In May 2017 I had the privilege to be a guest of Cometa Formazione in Como, Italy. I learned that this organization employs a set of philosophical, pedagogical and educational design principles which makes it quite unique in the world of vocational education within the European Union and beyond. Started as a fostering association of a group of families, it evolved in an organization for vocational education for both foster and regular students. Beauty is seen as an essential driver of respect and attraction, which influences behaviour and learning. The set of principles on which the practices of Cometa Formazione are based will be shortly described below. The principles go very well together with notions of progressive education, which is an educational philosophy developed by Dewey. He stated that discovery learning and applying acquired knowledge to the world around children was the right pedagogical approach for all education. Experiential learning thus became an essential ingredient of progressive education.

From “tayloristic” school to “tailor-made” education and training

VET, at both European and Italian level, faces an increasing number of challenges, as pointed out in the recent EU New Skills Agenda (EC, 2016; Nardi, 2017). Work-based learning, based on collaboration between schools and companies, seems to be the right pathway to cope with the problems of skills mismatch and unemployment. However, is it sufficient to effectively face these major challenges?
The experience of the authors, in particular in the context of Cometa Formazione – Oliver Twist VET school1, shows the relevance of new approaches in the school system, namely VET. A system where developing students’ capabilities (Nussbaum, 2011) becomes the main goal of teaching and training activities: future workers need not only professional skills for a (less and less) permanent job, rather they have to develop personal capabilities to keep themselves employable and smart citizens, the only way to safeguard social cohesion in the next decades (Nussbaum 2010; Alessandrini, 2014).
In a nutshell, school should not be required anymore to give only information: education implies to be able to inquiry reality, to catch the meaning and the beauty of it, but, above all, to make the right questions; henceforth, to support students to a deep self-knowledge, pointing out their capabilities and their potential “excellence” as human being (Nussbaum, 2011). A task within everybody’s grasp.
(Article by Franco Ferrazza and Paolo Nardi, based on the Erasmus+ project Trio2Success outputs)

School-Job Integration. The School in the XXI Century

“Skills are a pathway to employability and prosperity. With the right skills, people are equipped for good-quality jobs and can fulfil their potential as confident, active citizens. In a fast-changing global economy, skills will to a great extent determine competitiveness and the capacity to drive innovation. They are a pull factor for investment and a catalyst in the virtuous circle of job creation and growth. They are key to social cohesion” (EU New Skills Agenda 2016).

3ˆ Cometa Social Innovation Conference

May 8th 2017 h. 15.00-19.00

Cometa, via Madruzza 36 – Como

In the daily global challenges of educational and training activities, the importance to help students, mainly young kids, to develop a personal resilience is paramount. New skills for the future jobs are required. This educational paradigm shift implies to change methods, to update competence, to innovate learning processes. Cooperation and co-creation among actors (policy-makers, schools, enterprise, research) become crucial. The Third Cometa Social Innovation Conference aims at concretely address the challenges related to this paradigm shift in the vocational education and training sector, including the new model of School-Job integration implemented by Cometa Formazione.
Guest speakers of this conference edition include Prof. Martin Mulder (University of Wageningen), 2016 award by the European Commission for his research on VET, who will focus on the process of innovation of competence in the context of the work-based learning. Prof. Mario Calderini (Politecnico di Milano) will outline the outcomes and impacts as emerged in a recent assessment of the Cometa school-job integration model. Hans Van Der Loo, expert in STEM approach, will conclude with an overview on the future trends of education in this Exponential Era.
(here a concept note. A wider article, in Italian, is available here, coauthored by Laureen De Palma, Paolo Nardi, Marianna Nicotra and Barbara Robbiani)
Registration at:

Games as teaching method

A didactic game is construed as some sort of game where set rules are observed. It is an educating tool serving the didactic purpose. An important aspect of the game is to achieve a strictly defined score. Competences acquired when playing didactic games, e.g. persistence, critical thinking or readiness to run risk, facilitate the development of entrepreneurial attitudes. Examples of didactic games strengthening those competences are location-based games and strategic games.
(Article by Natalia Kaszkowiak and Joanna Tobys, based on the Erasmus+ project Trio2Success outputs)

Patronage classes. Linking labor market with education.

The patronage class of Solaris Bus & Coach functions within the Basic Vocational School in Murowana Goślina (Poland, Greater Poland province). It serves as an example of a large private enterprise with a state vocational school. The initiative is a response to a shortage of qualified workers on the local labour market. The main goals of the project are to allow the company to recruit qualified physical workers and, on the other hand to create an opportunity for youth to pursue vocational instruction with a perspective of long-term employment and with access to modern didactic infrastructure.
(Article by Joanna Tobys, Natalia Kaszkowiak and Marcin Woźniak, based on the Erasmus+ project Trio2Success outputs)

Debating. The new approach to learning social skills

Debate clubs are the offspring of historical eighteen century London Debating Societies. Nowadays, debating is perceived as one of the most interesting and effective methods of teaching pupils and students entrepreneurial skills. Although there are many ways of debating, the most popular is the British Parliamentary Style (BPS). According to BPS, there are two counteracting parties which argue around the given topic and try to persuade the adjudicators and the audience. In this spirit, the Poznań Oxford Debates were launched in 2012. Since that time, Career Counselling Centre organise the debates, which are popular among the students.
(Article based on the Erasmus+ project Trio2Success outputs)

The steps toward excellence in VET: an overview on recent policies

“Making VET a first choice”: this is one of the main goals the recent EU New Skills Agenda (20162) has set for next years. Few months before, the so-called Riga Conclusions (20152) were approved during the EU Latvian Presidency by the Ministers of Education from the European Union Member States, candidate countries, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, endorsing the new medium-term deliverables for vocational education and training. During this meeting, the ministers, supported by the associations of the European VET schools, aimed at stressing their efforts “in raising the overall quality and status of VET in the context of the Copenhagen process”. What declared in Riga and promoted one year later in the EU Skills Agenda, represents a new crucial step towards a set of new priorities and actions which will affect in particular the VET system at European level.

The School-Enterprise for the Reality-based learning approach

Conventional education is based on competences that are no longer useful for the expectations of today’s labor market. In fact, methodologies such as learning by doing and experiential learning are better “targeted” and more instrumental to the working environment not only due to the quality of professional skills they convey, but first and foremost of the soft skills. The School-Enterprise tool thus becomes a core building block for establishing a connection between subject-matters in school and the real world in an educational and training setting. This case study focuses on the Cometa Formazione new learning approach for 14-18 years old VET students.
(Article by Francesco Campiotti, Mariachiara Gomaraschi and Marianna Nicotra, based on the Erasmus+ project Trio2Success outputs)