At Big Education, we have bold ambitions to transform the education landscape. We have a vision for a bigger, more expansive education – the education of head, heart and hand – where Ofsted and results are a minimum necessity, but not the goals of education.
One of the ways we want to do this early on is by generating debate and dialogue around what it means to innovate in education. On 13 November, we launched our Big Education Dialogues. These events are designed to build on the great work already happening in our schools. The aim is to raise our sights again, to think afresh about the big problems we can solve and the fresh thinking that will have the most impact on the lives of young people.
Our first event focussed on the question: ‘How radical are we compared to the rest of the world?’ This aimed to produce some fruitful enquiry questions to pursue. There is lots of exciting innovation going on around this world, but how can we do better at shaping the argument?
We had the pleasure of hosting Alex Beard who has just written the excellent book Natural Born Learners and Rosie Clayton of the RSA who travelled across the United States looking at innovative practice. Alex walked us through his journey across the globe, from children being encouraged to work as if the teachers didn’t exist, to young people doing a 21-day coding marathon. Whilst these examples may seem obscure without context, each school had a focus on increasing knowledge, creativity, life-long learning, technology or emotional intelligence, in a radical and compelling way. These varying insights created our first enquiry questions of the evening ‘What if you take knowledge really seriously?’ ‘What if you take life-long learning really seriously?’ ‘With so much inspiring work going on across the world, how do we apply all of these lessons for the purpose of building a healthier, more coherent and stronger world?’
Whilst this learning is vital in opening up our thinking about innovation in education, the process of change is equally as important as the content. Rosie gave us interesting insight into systematic change and how we can create this effectively. Being outward facing, building effective partnerships and building rituals have created real change in innovative schools in the US. This raised our next enquiry questions of the evening: ‘What are the non-negotiables that Big Education should be setting?’ ‘How do we take our context into consideration when building rituals?’
With examples of innovative practice from Alex, and discussion around how this is effectively implemented from Rosie, we opened up the discussion to our guests. We wanted them to dig deeper and think expansively about the questions we should be exploring at Big Education. Thank you to our guests for giving us lots to explore, which we are hoping to share shortly with you all!
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