Dreaming of a new type of school

Published: Monday 24 February 2020

This week I went to the first LEQ event of 2020, where Stephen Harris presented his decades of education experience, and his recent work with LearnLife.

I love listening to inspiring and knowledgeable education experts and Stephen is definitely one of them. Following his years as Principal of NBCS, he has embarked on a new venture, really unpacking what education was, is, and could be.

For many years now, we have been realising that our education system is not set up for the way current and future students learn, acquire knowledge, and work.. Which brings us to think about the role of school - if facts and figures are now accessible from your fingertips, and automation is limiting future work opportunities, what is the new function of our learning systems, if it is no longer just a linear process for training people into industry ..?

Stephen spoke about his years of experience in education, particularly in his current adopted home of Spain. A surprising 1 in 5 students don't finish school, and students can finish up from as young as 11 years old. Given the OECD is recognising that examinations are having less relevance to the future of students productivity, passion and career progression, how do we keep students learning, and should this be in a 'school'?

Stephen has co-created DreamSchool in Barcelona, Spain as a starter case to test some ideas about new ways of learning through collaborative learning ecosystems, encouraging personalised learning to enable students to find their why. Students are not just passive passengers on their learning journey, but active drivers visioning authentic change for the future.

Students are EQUIPed to Explore, Question, Understand, Imagine and Produce through team learning based around real-world problems. Similarly, teachers are pushed to explore a new way of teaching through collaborative partnerships.

This type of school is not for everyone, whether student or teacher, as we often hear. But 'standard' schools are not for everyone too. And there are so many students struggling with this new VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. So any variety in learning environments has got to be a good thing. It's always heartening to hear from educators with a passion for ensuring every student can achieve their individual potential. Let's hope we see many more DreamSchools around the world in the years to come.

Dani Martin, Senior Architect, Hayball

Photos courtesy of Derek Bartel