Rethinking Innovation in education

I’m usually reluctant to write about articles that I can’t immediately share with a quick link but Charles Leadbeater’s most recent piece Rethinking innovation in education: Opening  up the debate, published recently by CSE, seems only available as a purchase.

So I must have really liked it to be writing about it, and I did.  He uses some modern technology comparisons (the App Store, Pixar Studios) to talk about what constitutes effective cultures of innovation and what that means for school systems, including the necessity for sustaining innovation: ‘leading innovation means creating and then leading a creative community, around a cause.’

He talks a lot too about a growing consensus, partly from insights into brain-based learning, about what constitutes effective 21st century learning, something I’ve written about here at times too. He writes, ‘to put it simply, the core of this consensus is that people learn most effectively when they are mainly learning WITH others, and sometimes BY themselves, and less frequently when the are having things explained FOR them or knowledge delivered TO them. Increasingly, to make learning effective we need to design it as a WITH and BY activity, rather than something tat’s about doing FOR and TO us.’ (his emphasis through the caps)

He then lists 10 main ingredients (I love recipe lists!) about that emerging consensus coming out of a range of sources (which he lists)

  1. Learning is an active and engaged process
  2. Engaged learning is impossible unless the learner feels motivated
  3. To be motivating, learning has to be personal, rather than standardised
  4. As well as feeling deeply personal, learning needs to be highly collaborative
  5. Mastering knowledge and skills is not a process of memorising content and regurgitating it in a form for a test; learning is about application
  6. This kind of learning thrives on feedback
  7. Learning needs to be stretching and challenging
  8. That kind of learning is a structured process, not a free for all. Learning should be hard work but rewarding and fun.
  9. Learning should take place in a wide variety of settings, not just at school or in a classroom.
  10. Designing the conditions for this kind of learning is hard; we will need perhaps fewer but more skilled, creative, master teachers.
He says lots of other stuff too, including ‘if education systems were like the App Store, developers from outside and inside the system would be adding new apps the whole time to help people learn’.
Lots of food for thought as I sat in on  a session on personalised learning today.
Top: 19th Century innovation; a steam engine in a Murray River paddle steamer. Photo: Warrick