‘Anything we do, we focus on making education relevant, ensuring that it has a contemporary connection – and therefore we contextualise through many different ways,’ says Bernhard Gademann, the conductor of Switzerland’s globally-revered Institut auf dem Rosenberg of its holistic and technologically informed approach to learning. ‘I think we live in such a dynamic world, with any kind of changes from digitalisation to sustainability constantly shaping societies and changing the way we work and live.’
‘All of our parents are entrepreneurs that run their own businesses that are very successful, and they’re really our best sounding board for new ideas. And they’ll come to us and tell us what they think is missing today in education.’
One such parent pointed out that it’s sometimes difficult to foster a healthy culture around robust debate in the modern world. ‘[They said that] people don’t know how to have a have a civilised argument any more … what happened to a good proper way of having a discourse?’ Gademann says. ‘So we took this as inspiration – within two weeks, we had a course called The Art of Conflict.’
Gademann, who heads the 133-year-old school that has been run by four generations of his family, had a somewhat unconventional route into education, working in finance and technology before taking the helm of the Institut. He draws on his unique experience by teaching students about wealth creation and investment. ‘Everybody should know about interest rates, inflation, share investment portfolios – nobody teaches this.’ His students create portfolios and are told to invest a hypothetical $1 million sensibly and sustainably. ‘It’s really, really beautiful to see how they can connect all the knowledge that they pick up, and end up with having their own voice and are not just repeating something. They come up with their own project.’
His love of technology has also revolutionised the classroom – and the school’s timetabling. ‘We employ very powerful algorithms for example to create timetables … in theory, we would be able to have a new timetable every single day. We think we think the world’s not quite ready for it, but we have the capability to do it.’
Traditional schools, meanwhile, could do better: they need to embrace technology and change, he says.
Gademann also believes that the gulf ‘between reality and what is actually being taught in a classroom’ is widening, adding that he strives to ensure his Institut is not ‘restricted by the way typical schools work’.
‘What’s unique to Rosenberg is that every student has their own individual timetable,’ he says. ‘And what we’ve done is we’ve created our own school system – with a student app, where they can basically manage their life into roles.’
Another unique aspect of the Institut’s approach is the work of their Artisans, a term which Gademann says elevates the human and social skills of teachers that machines will never replace. ‘Human beings very much rely on social interaction. This is how we learn. If you think about your job today, you never took an exam to perform your job today, 99% of that you learned on the job, you did that because you were interested, you were curious,’ he says. ‘And so I think referring to our teachers as Artisans raises their position.’
Gademann’s Artisans, and some other crucial pieces of tradition, including the Rosenberg values, will stay central to the philosophy as the school continues to set standards in the world of learning. ‘I often say that we are 133-year-old startup, you know – it’s a very young team, very dynamic, very quick to embrace new ideas, [and] to take risks as well.’
Power List Profile
Bernhard OA Gademann has taken education to the next level together with his team of revolutionary educators – the Artisans of Education® at Institut auf dem Rosenberg. Despite his family’s long-standing tradition, representing the fourth consecutive generation to preside over this unique school in Switzerland, Mr Gademann and his Artisans never cease to innovate and challenge the status quo in schooling, providing true and holistic 21st century education for responsible future leaders.
Beyond Rosenberg, Mr Gademann continues to expand his scope as CEO of Pioneer Ventures and in 2018, he co-founded the start-up Edu Smart Technologies, together with his wife Anita Gademann. Prior to his career in education, Mr Gademann excelled in senior roles in the financial service industry in London and New York, focusing on cutting edge technology, developing global partnerships at the dawn of algorithmic trading and mobile market data. The skills he acquired during this time continue to influence his working life, from understanding the power of building strategic partnerships in order to leverage expertise, through to embracing and harnessing the powers of new technology quickly.
Since returning to Switzerland to take the reins of his family’s business in the 2010s, Mr Gademann and his wife Anita Gademann have made leaps in innovation, successfully establishing their own Rosenberg International Curriculum – RIC® – as well as the IDP® Ed-Tech platform and are recognised as pioneers in preparing students for successful coexistence and leadership in an age of intelligent machines. Their ultimately individual and holistic approach to education is enhanced through the unique Talent & Enrichment programme, delivered in collaboration with leading universities such as ETH Zurich and high-tech industry partners such as Boston Dynamics.