Innovation in Education
Shanel Catasti, Elementary Vice-Principal
Why do we need innovation in education? This question opens up engaging discussion and, at times, debate amongst educators. But before we can explore this question, there is a more basic one to consider: What is education for?
Historically, education was for developing academic ability and schools were created to meet the needs of industrialism. Children were often steered away from the things they liked learning about to subjects that would integrate them into the workforce. At the same time, there was, and still is, an expectation that schools should prepare children for the future. But what does that future look like? As educationalist Sir Ken Robinson notes, "Education takes us into a future that we can't grasp". Perspectives such as this challenge schools to rethink the fundamental principles on which we currently educate children, which leads back to the original question: Why do we need innovation in education?
A school that values innovation nurtures children's creative passions and helps them to make connections to the real world. Inquiry and innovative project-based learning connected to the student's interests, along with access to experts and mentors enables students to pursue their passions and take learning beyond the classroom. At YIS, we place a strong emphasis on how students learn as well as what they learn, and we believe they learn best when they are actively involved in authentic learning engagements across all the curriculum areas. Through reflecting on their learning, students becoming critical thinkers and develop an ability to take action.
Educational innovation also embraces the shift towards educating children from a whole-child lens, where students learn to problem solve and play an active role in goal setting, and where social-emotional learning is prioritized. At YIS, we value the development of the whole child in all areas of learning, and we support and nurture students in their social and emotional development as well as in their creative, linguistic, sporting and academic programs.
Children have amazing capacities for creativity and naturally they will take risks, make mistakes and try again, opening up opportunities to create things that are original. Schools need to create innovative learning environments and programs that support a positive attitude towards taking risks and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities. This goes to the concept of learning itself, which we define as "a developmental process that changes our thinking and behaviors, enabling us to acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes while providing a catalyst for creativity, critical thinking and independent reasoning."
So perhaps education is really about introducing children to things they may not know they love learning about, and our focus as teachers should be on nurturing children's talents in the classroom and giving giving them the tools they need to explore this with. A school focused on innovation is thus one that invites students to be co-authors of their education, embracing and supporting the individual and the unique set of skills and interests that motivate them. By valuing innovation and creativity as essential skills that enable students to meet future challenges, we can help students become the adaptable thinkers, collaborative problem solvers, and irrepressible innovators that an unknowable and quickly changing world demands.