One of the most innovative education programs in the world is right here in London, ON.
I’ve just started a LinkedIn account on the advice of some colleagues who are finding it their most helpful and enjoyable social media platform. I was hesitant because after spending years growing a professional Facebook page account to 50,000 (which I have since deleted when I paused my parenting writing), I didn’t want another account to feed and keep track of.
It turns out that in the week I have been really using this account, I’ve been thinking and reading more useful material than on other platforms in a long time. One of the topics I’ve looped myself into is innovation, and specifically, education innovation.
As I scroll through the education innovation articles, I find myself posting the same comment — I love your idea to ___ (insert incredible vision to change something major that isn’t working in education), did you know we’re already doing that at our Acton Academy school in Canada?
Seeing what other thinkers are wishing for in education like what Trevor Soponis, PhD posted recently, “We need new models of learning. … it’s about empowering students to not move at the speed of the teacher or their classmates. Or even study the same thing,” has prompted me to realize what we have here at Infinity School.
I’m seeing big dreams for interdisciplinary programs, high schools that don’t make teenagers start at 8am, and hopes to see the programs not revolve around a curriculum that is painfully outdated. Guess what, we’re already doing all of that here!
Reading all of these posts on LinkedIn and wishes for change in education, I’ve really been thinking about what “education innovation” means. To me, innovation is a process of questioning, reinventing, and trying. It is asking big questions that we might not like the answers to in our pursuit of removing old ways of thinking to make room for new ways of growth.
Education Innovation questions are ones like these:
- Are report cards still (or were they ever) a useful tool for measuring progress? If not, what is better?
- How can we hand power and ownership of learning over to those doing the learning?
- What kinds of learning activities are truly useful and impactful?
- How can emotional intelligence, empathy, and open mindset thinking be incorporated into every day?
- Is having a teacher as “expert” standing in front of a (often large) group of children/ teenagers the best way to learn? Do you like learning like that?
- What is school for?
I also believe that innovation in education is about creating systems and processes that make it possible for the program to essentially run itself. And putting the ability to change these systems in the hands of those they most affect — the learners.
Over the past five years I have watched the handful of brave six to eight-year-olds who walked through our doors on the day we opened from thinking inside the public school box to people who can project manage, lead others even when a few of those others are difficult and not contributing, ask incredible questions, and do tough things. And they are happy.
This handful of learners five years ago has grown to almost forty children and youth doing school differently.
When we ask them what they like the most about this program, we usually hear two things: I love the freedom to be myself and learn how I learn, and all the adults are really nice here. We don’t hear about how innovative we are or about the myriad of things we have done to make this program one of the leading systems in education. These Eagles simply know that they matter and that their love of learning continues to grow. Maybe that’s truly what education innovation is about.
-Andrea, Co-founder & Director of Infinity School
We do have a handful of spaces open for the 2021-2022 school year in our elementary program and our high school is opening this September! We are looking for 7-10 teenagers who want to dig into learning — contact us for more information about either of these programs.