Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Monday, January 26, 2009

Innovating to Learn, Learning to Innovate

I started reading a recent OECD publication, Innovating to Learn, Learning to Innovate. The publication is connected to a project, Innovative Learning Environments which has grown out of Schooling for Tomorrow project.

The Innovative Learning Environments project is grappling with the question:

How can today’s schools be transformed so as to become environments of teaching and learning that makes individuals lifelong learners and prepare them for the 21st Century?

The project recognises a shift between the two projects



In the first chapter, The search for Innovative Learning Environments, Francisco Benavides, Hanna Dumont and David Istance put forward an argument that schools should be reinvented rather than reformed.

"… reforms have ultimately come up against a wall, or rather a ceiling, beyond which further progress seems impossible, leading increasing numbers of school administrators and educators to wonder whether schools do not need to be reformed but to be reinvented."
Schooling for Tomorrow. OECD, 2006. pp.187-188.

They identify a reform agenda based on knowledge creation rather than transmission arguing that reinvention requires 3 key pillars:

  1. Robust research on learning and teaching
  2. Consideration of innovative learning experiences and environments, and
  3. The broader educational and non-educational trends that set the context for the immediate and longer-term future.

In a later chapter, Research-based Innovation by Carl Bereiter and MarleneScardamalia the term fruitfulness is introduced as an approach to identifying approaches that are worth developing as new directions because of the promise they hold to make significant leaps forward beyond current outcomes.

The common approach in education is to use "effect size". This may be useful in identifying high yield strategies and "best" practice, but doesn't identify possible successful innovations. Fruitfulness does.

Creativity, Innovation and Learning

Late last year I was contacted by a consulting company who has been commissioned by the European Commission to identify a list of Good Practice for Fostering Creativity and Innovation in all sectors of society within EC countries.

This project has been commissioned as part of 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation.

Despite being located in Australia, they had come across my "extensive work on learning and innovation" (their words), and thought that I might be able to help them identify practices that I may have come across in the EU.

They are seeking practices and projects targeted at:

  • Stimulating innovative/creative behaviour in people, and

  • Promoting an innovative/creative approach to tackle problems in society.

I think they would probably be aware of the work of the places I visited on my Churchill Fellowship but I put forward some recommendations.

What captured my imagination though was the focus on creativity and innovation. It sounds much more promising than the Australian Government's Education Revloution.

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