Finding the Triangular Space

Do we need innovation in education?  What are the skills that children will need to prosper in their future? Charles Leadbeater (2011) and many others suggest that reproducing knowledge will become secondary to the ability to apply “knowledge in inventive ways in novel contexts.” We won’t be providing students “with access to a fixed stock of knowledge” but getting them to tap into “flows of knowledge that are constantly changing.”  These “flows of knowledge” are accessed through collaborative networks. This is why, according to Leadbeater, we need innovation in learning: to help us find the “triangular space between what we have, what we need and what is possible.” If this is true, we need a better understanding of what this might look like. He suggests nine ingredients (which are summarized here):

  • Learning must be an active process where the learner applies knowledge in a new context.
  • The learner’s motivation and engagement are critical.
  • The learning should be personalized rather than standardized.
  • Learning should include a collaborative process.
  • Learning should require adopting the right approach and principles to solve complex problems.
  • Descriptive feedback should guide the learning throughout the process.
  • Learning requires a demanding structure but should move to become increasingly a self-regulated process.
  • Learning should take place in a wide variety of settings.
  • Master teachers will be required to design these kinds of learning conditions.

If you look at this list, how does it fit with your vision of education?  Do these principles live in our classrooms? Are some more prominent than others? Is there a colleague down the hall that creates learning conditions where these ingredients are present? Do we talk about these ideas in the staffroom? In the schoolhouse? Is there something here that resonates for you?

This post is adapted from Charles Leadbeaters’ article Rethinking Innovation in Education: Learning in Victoria in 2020 (Draft January 2011). Thank you to Superintendent Mike McKay who shared this article as one of his assigned readings for the Global Education Leaders’ Program.

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