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Best of both worlds: Estelle’s journey in a pioneering role, Dec 19

Author: e.ashman

Last month Laura and I went to the HundrED Innovation Summit in Helsinki. It was fascinating hearing about Education initiatives from across the globe. A couple of things struck me. Firstly, there is a huge gulf between the haves and have nots – the initiatives from parts of Africa and India make a huge impact with so little - and secondly, many of the initiatives were incredibly creative, something Digital Schoolhouse strives to bring to UK classrooms. There is also a link between the two, where the initiatives were being run in poorer areas often it was the creativity of the team that allowed them to shine in such difficult circumstances. One such project included teaching students to use power tools to create their own playground. Of course, not all creative initiatives were from poorer areas. Rob Houben, manager of the Agora school in Roermond, Netherlands, told us about how students at his school develop their own learning journey. Each student decides on their own project and it is the job of their teachers – called coaches at Agora – to ensure that their chosen project has tangible results and that the student has made progress. The school is Government funded with parents making a €100 contribution towards costs that are not adequately funded by the Government. Another speaker told us about the THINK Global School, a school which travels around the globe. This is a private school with associated costs, full tuition costs almost $100,000, making it out of reach of most families, although the school does offer discounted tuition based on income.

Of course not all of this would be possible in UK schools, partially due to health and safety – young students wielding power tools are definitely off the table – and partly due to a lack of funding, but what is possible is a move towards a more creative curriculum which allows students to develop their creativity. Sometimes this requires creative thinking in how to teach the curriculum – Computing can be a dry, theoretical subject in some hands and an exciting, inventive one in others. Often the thing holding the teacher back is a lack of confidence; if you feel a lack of trust in your own teaching of a subject it can be very hard to take a leap of faith and do something different. Sticking to the status-quo becomes the safe option, especially if you are supposed to be the ‘expert’. This is where Digital Schoolhouse’s work comes in, our workshops are intrinsically creative and can support Computing subject leads to feel confident in teaching the Computing curriculum in a way that not only fosters creativity in the students but is creative in and of itself. This is probably the biggest difference between Digital Schoolhouse and the initiatives we heard about at the summit - a DSH workshop is as much for the teacher as it is the students and while the UK might not be in a position to build an Agora style school yet, we can certainly help our teachers to bring a little of that Agora flavour into their Computing lessons.

Digital Schoolhouse been awarded the HundrED spotlight on Digital Wellbeing in partnership with Supercell.

You can read more about the Agora school here, and the THINK global school here.

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