Contemporary, student-centred education

By Ms Linda Douglas, principal

We enjoyed a presentation at the end of last term from Mr Jake Plaskett, our director of Learning Innovation. Jake is a product of project-based learning, being a graduate of High Tech High in San Diego. Jake gave a passionate and engaging presentation about the rapidly changing world and our responsibility to adapt to those changes in our current educational climate. As Jake highlighted, Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, has been influential in helping educators worldwide to shape their work and thoughts on students, to engage every student in the pursuit of academic personal best.

Carol tells us that ‘In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits … In a growth mindset, students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence … they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.’

From this landmark concept, George Couros authored The Innovator Mindset, which provides powerful provocations, and outlines the precursors of innovation in order to empower our students and educators to be future-focused. Using design thinking, he argues that, in order to create new and better ways of doing things, we need first to understand for whom we are creating them. For many educators, innovation may start with the question, ‘what is best for this learner?’ as we strive to understand their experiences and what works or does not work from their perspective as the learner.

Jake argued the importance of creating and sustaining the conditions for students to develop an innovator’s mindset, by encouraging us to stop predicting jobs of the future, but instead inviting us to ask students what problems they want to solve, and what skills they need to do it. Jake also highlighted the following characteristics that we, as parents and educators, need to foster in our girls to strengthen their ability to innovate:

  • Problem Finders – It is no longer enough to be a problem solver; in the future, we will need to be able to identify a problem and ideate ways to address that problem
  • Risk-Takers – To be truly innovative, you sometimes have to go off the beaten path and try something unique or different; be daring
  • Creators – Innovation requires ideas, but also a great deal of hard work because, without action, ideas simply fade away rather than come to fruition
  • Networked – Innovation does not happen in isolation; ideas that are shared among many lead to the development of new and better ideas
  • Resilient – Things do not always work on the first try, or even the second or third. It is the modifications, rethinks, tweaks and rebuilds that lead to success. Resilience and grit are essential in a world where instant gratification is the increasing norm
  • Reflective – What worked? What didn’t? What could we do next time? It is important that, in both education and innovation, learners and educators reflect on process if we are to achieve the deep learning and make the process meaningful

Mindset, both growth and innovators’, is central to our strategic plan as we develop signature learning programs for our girls.


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