Schools should astonish kids

One of my delights at the recent ULearn conference in Rotorua was spending more time with Stephen Heppell, discussing areas of mutual interest relating to what schools and schooling might be like in the future. Our conversations were a continuation of ideas we shared in the pre-conference workshop at last year’s ULearn conference on Future Focused Schools, but with the added focus on the real context of what is happening in Christchurch at the moment as we contemplate some significant changes happening here post-eathquake.

I asked Stephen if he’d mind sharing some of his thoughts on video for us to use in some of the work we’re doing in, and some of my colleagues in CORE have produced the short clip posted above. 

In the clip, Stephen asserts that students should find schools, the physical spaces, “astonishing”, and be “wow-ed” by them as places that stimulate, engage and excite them to learn. He reflects on how the work he and his team at Ultralab did in the 1990s with online learning actually proto-typed the sorts of things we are now considering with physical learning spaces – recognising the importance for learning of students learning with each other, of the need for peer support and affirmation, and of how crucial exhibition and celebration are.

Stephen reflects on how students became 'immersed' these online learning environments, and found a 'continuity' in their learning that meant they weren't subjected to the time-space constraints that we've managed to create in our current model of schooling. It is this sort of thinking, he says, that we need to bring now to the table as we reconceptualise what schools and schooling might be like in the future – both in the physical and the onine sense. 

One thought on “Schools should astonish kids

  1. Just read an article by Tom Friedman that illustrates Stephen's message perfectly. India's Innovation Stimulus:  Creative people are inventing innovative solutions that liberate India's poorest people. Farming software to increase crop productivity. A prescreening device to significantly reduce the ravages of eye maladies. Transportation software to efficiently locate the cheapest fares. Astonishing! Imagine what the world would be like twenty years from now if students were all learning to be creative astonishers whose passion in life is to invent a better future. And if that's not enough to motivate schools to change, invite them to imagine what the world will be like if students are not learning to be astonishers.

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