Thursday 30 September 2010


I had a fascinating chat today (via Skype) with Simon Kavanagh from the Danish organisation KaosPilots. I can't remember where I heard about them but Grethe, one of our colleagues Denmark who visits Tallis each year in January on her way to the BETT show, happened to know the folks there and made a connection on out behalf.

Here's a brief introduction to the School:

The KaosPilot program is a 3-year education divided into four disciplines:

Creative Business Design
Creative Leadership Design
Creative Project Design
Creative Process Design

The students learn how to build a viable business according to their and clients visions and values, they learn how to be leaders, and how to initiate and execute creative and sustainable projects, as well as design and conduct change processes for different clients.
The KaosPilot program is a three-year, fulltime program, divided into six semesters. Each year corresponds to 60 points in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and each semester last 19 – 21 weeks.

The program is integrative and multidisciplinary in the sense that it draws upon different, traditional sciences and combines aspects of these with new approaches in the core disciplines and their components. The traditional disciplines are Social Studies, Psychology, Anthropology, Pedagogy, Leadership and Organization, Complexity Theory, Creativity, Design, Communication, Project Management and Business.

My chat with Simon consisted of us exchanging some news about what each of our schools was up to. I mentioned our specialist status (Arts, Leading Edge and School of Creativity), the trip to Oklahoma and our interest in new models for creative learning. I'm particularly interested in the idea that schools could become real agents of change in emerging communities, like the one on our doorstep. Simon spoke about a new collaboration with the community of Paddington in West London where a huge new social enterprise scheme is being established with their support and that of The Hub.

I've arranged to continue this chat tomorrow and will attempt to find out more about the Paddington project. Sounds fascinating. I'll report back in due course.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

First meeting of the new academic year

The Creative Tallis Action Research Group met for the first time this academic year this morning. We have a great combination of new and existing members with the adults outnumbered by students. We really appreciate the students attending this morning since they would officially start school today an hour later. Some of them, in fact, only came in at all because they belong to the ARG. Very noble!

Our discussion focused on three things:

1. What do we want to achieve this year?
2. Who do want to collaborate with?
3. Who will benefit?

After a detailed and lively discussion we agreed to three foci for the year:

1. Developing a creative learning conference/Teechmeet and supporting the whole school creativity festival in the summer term
2. Establishing a creative learning project with a groups of Year 7 students (and their parents/carers) using handheld technologies. The idea would be to encourage the students to document their positive experiences of learning so that these can be shared with the whole community and inform the development of our pedagogy.
3. Working in collaboration with the maths, English and science faculties to develop inter-disciplinary creative learning strategies, possibly through a Teacher Exchange programme.

Thanks for everyone's contributions today. It promises to be a very exciting year again for us.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Creative Learning Reflections (Part 1)

The Element of Surprise

Prompted by several excellent blog posts and the practice of a colleague in a local primary school, I have been thinking about the importance of surprise in learning. The first five minutes of a lesson or meeting can be a crucial period of time in which to generate space for creative thinking. Surprising students before or as they enter the room might be a really effective strategy for challenging their expectations of the lesson. A curious sign on the door, a song or video playing in the room, a provocative question on the board, unusual equipment out on the desks ... These might all open up the potential for new and unusual forms of enquiry. I'm going to play around with these ideas over the next few weeks to see how effective they are in generating more creative thinking in my lessons.

On a related, but slightly different, note I've decided to steal an idea from a primary school colleague for my Tallis Lab lessons. She rewards children in her class who have demonstrated personal learning and thinking skills by giving them the honour of wearing a hat. Each hat has a different name, representing a specific learning skill or attribute, and they all hang expectantly on an old fashioned hat stand in the corner of the room. So, in any one lesson, children may be wearing the bowler hat of perseverance, the tiara of creativity or the beret of collaboration.

I'm off to scour the charity shops of South East London in search of my PLTS hats right now. I'm certainly hoping that my new hats will add an element of surprise to my next few lessons and help students get to grips with the notion of explicit, transferable, personal learning and thinking skills.

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