Since Kennisland began working on innovation in education around a decade ago, the education system has developed in many different ways. The learning capacity of schools has increased, and teachers and pupils now play an increasing role in innovation and developing education policy. There is also more discussion about the structure of the curriculum, and the question of which knowledge and skills are actually needed in today’s digitised, globalised and multicultural society. In addition, more and more schools dare to experiment with the structure of education itself, by scrapping fixed timetables, classes and grades.
However, despite these positive developments, we have observed that truly ambitious change remains sporadic and slow. This is mainly due to a shortage of teaching staff, fear of change and the pressures of workload and accountability. In the vast majority of cases, education continues to follow the same template as a century ago: a school building with classes, where groups of pupils spend five days a week listening in silence to a teacher standing in front of the class, and an educational process largely driven by the examination system. The segmented, inward-looking structure of the education system means there is little communication between schools, sectors, educational levels, teachers and the rest of societEducation continues to follow the same template as a century ago: a school building with classes, where groups of pupils spend five days a week listening in silence to a teacher.y.
In short, there is an island culture at all levels, which is too far removed from the rapid developments and changes elsewhere in society. This acts as a barrier to the further development of education. At the same time, the motivation of pupils to learn appears to be steadily decreasing, while society faces increasingly urgent problems, both in social and ecological terms.
We believe the challenge is to break through this island culture with all available tools, and to work towards new, thriving, learning communities capable of making concrete contributions to education for an open, sustainable and inclusive society. These learning communities may be temporary and experimental, or indeed the start of a more structural change.
How can we build innovative education for society?
- ++Our New SchoolIn the project Our New School we investigated innovative ideas for new schools in Amsterdam.
During the past decade, we have discovered that the margins of the everyday, the rough edges of the system, are where interesting ideas emerge that are capable of delivering what is really needed.During the past decade, we have discovered that the margins of the everyday, the rough edges of the system, are where interesting ideas emerge that are capable of delivering what is really needed. By encouraging the development of ideas, and creating space for small-scale practical experiments, we can discover what is possible. We can make much better and more systematic use of these rough edges. In doing so, it’s important not just to optimise existing systems, but also to investigate more radical ideas.
- ++Broedplaats010In the Broedplaats010 (Incubator010) we help ambitious teachers in primary, secondary and vocational education in Rotterdam develop innovative educational projects.
Parents, public organisations and business must become more intensively involved with education and creating learning environments. For example, how can children learn from their environment as a whole, so that learning doesn’t stop at the school gates? The community beyond schools has an inexhaustible source of knowledge and social capital at its disposal. In addition, this will automatically lead to more interaction and exchange between developments in society and in education.
- ++Innovative leadership in educationThe programme ‘Vernieuwend leiderschap PO’ (Innovative leadership in primary education) helps a collective of school leaders increase the learning and innovative capacity of their schools and realise a concrete innovation concept. They do so in their own schools, and as part of a long-term cross-school (and cross-administration) school leaders’ network.
To prevent education falling behind the times, innovative leadership is required from all concerned: pupils, teachers, school leaders and administrators.To prevent education falling behind the times, innovative leadership is required from all concerned: pupils, teachers, school leaders and administrators. Today’s educational leaders must have specific qualities. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for innovation in education: while innovation is sometimes truly visionary, very often it also involves change in a very specific context. Although strong and inspiring leadership is sometimes needed to break with the status quo, it is more often the case that leadership is required in everyday situations. Innovation almost always demands initiative, courage, perseverance and the ability to find new (and unusual) connections. For innovation in education based on a clear vision for society to become a reality, teachers and school leaders, as well as school administrators and other leaders in education, must develop their leadership qualities. Innovation is an issue for every school, and every school leader has an important role to play.
- ++Specific attention for urgent social problemsIn Nieuwkomerspioniers (newcomers’ pioneers), Kennisland is working to improve education for refugee children. By stimulating teachers to share their knowledge with one another, we are working to create an infrastructure for shared learning and development.
Now that innovation in education is receiving more and more attention, it is important to keep an eye on the overall goal of these innovation processes.Now that innovation in education is receiving more and more attention, it is important to keep an eye on the overall goal of these innovation processes. In particular, we must consider whether a specific educational innovation actually delivers something for society, and what that might be. Otherwise, there is a risk that the education system will only optimise its internal structures, without really creating added value for society.
More information: Kimon Moerbeek (firstname.lastname@example.org)