- Physical design of the school
- Methods of learning
- The role of the teacher
- Exams and assessment
- The day – timetable, duration
- Libraries, books and other resources
How can we bring innovation to education? Develop the innovators’ DNA – practise the five “discovery skills” of true innovators
1. Associating – If we only look at schools, we will only think about new and improved schools. Connect questions, problems and ideas from different fields that may be seemingly unrelated.
At SCIL, we seek inspiration outside schools. Many have seen the sofas in the classrooms at Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS). That idea came from a deserted cafe/bar area we stumbled upon when we were at the Cite Des Sciences in Paris.
2. Questioning – We need to challenge the status quo – ask why, why not and what if.
At SCIL we ask:
- Why do we have textbooks’? What if we found another way to provide resources students need?
- Why not abandon the timetable?
- What if students brought their own devices to school and school put IT recourses into a robust wifi network?
‘Embrace constraints’ seems counter-intuitive, however, great design and innovation comes from working to constraints. What are the key factors that have been Ikea’s success? Affordable design that can be flat-packed and put in a box.
3. Observing – Become anthropologists and social scientists. Look out for small behavioural details and gain insight into new ways of doing things.
What is the physical environment that is most productive for you? What spaces foster creativity? I like to sit with my feet up and computer on my lap, and look out at a view (exactly where I am right now). When I write, I stop, think, gaze at the view, work out my thoughts and then get back to writing.
At SCIL we observe where are students prefer to work. In the open spaces there are many options – beanbags, sofas, pods, stools, tables and chairs and, of course, the floor. They have freedom to choose where to sit and freedom to move around. we find that our students are more productive when they have choice.
4. Experimenting – intellectual exploration, physical tinkering, engagement in new surroundings.
SCIL Associates are a group of teachers at NBCS who try out ideas, meet up regularly and share their experiences. They are the classic “iron sharpens iron” group. When the SCIL Associates meet they encourage one another and are comfortable to talk about the ideas they have tried, those they will develop further and those they won’t.
5. Networking – Innovative entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge.
One of the most significant activities that has impacted the work of SCIL has been developing national and international connection and engaging in dialogue with other like-minded people who are passionate about students and their learning.
Twitter is a great place to start!