At the Scala College all teachers can choose which of three educational innovations they’d like to work on, as well as which of four roles they’d like to fulfil (creative thinker, executor, designer or chaser). In this way, everyone can contribute to the greater good and boost support among teachers.
Scala College has noticed that the standard education programme is not really getting the best out of students. That’s why its education committee has decided to instigate an educational development initiative. The objective is to offer education that does justice to that fact that there are differences. After hosting various team days and brainstorming sessions and then conducting a survey among teachers, three pillars representing the basis for educational development, have been defined. These pillars are “interdisciplinary courses”, “students’ choice” and “learning through research”.
Choose your role
To ensure that every teacher stays involved with innovations, they can each choose which pillar they want to work on. They can then choose the role they want to play: creative thinker (providing tips and ideas), designer (developing an idea), executor (carrying out what has been designed), or chaser (making sure the idea is actually designed and carried out). This ensures that a teacher’s involvement can be as modest or as extensive as he or she wants. This broadens the support base among teachers and ensures that the work is clearly distributed, thus avoiding a situation in which too much is expected of just one person.
Not everyone is actively involved – a creative thinker, for example, is often only present during meetings. But Scala College made a deliberate choice in this respect so that teachers are given more space. It has the effect of energising mainly the teachers who are enthusiastic. Everyone is familiar with the three pillars and, to a greater extent, they support the basic principles. “It’s refreshing to be more involved with the content of education, rather than only discussing technical and administrative matters,” enthuses a teacher at Scala College.
An example from the “learning through research” pillar is one in which two teachers, playing the roles of executor and designer, have designed a research assignment for a practical assignment. A student doing physics or biology can now choose whether to carry out the regular practical assignment or one in which the emphasis is more on research.
Meanwhile, designers from the “students’ choice” pillar have developed a language assignment in which students can choose a different way of writing an essay than the traditional method. The options include a blog, a speech, an interview, and so on.
An example from the “interdisciplinary courses” pillar is the different ways in which a project about the First World War can be approached. With the help of the creative thinkers, the design teacher opened up this project so that it can also be tackled in other subjects, such as history, chemistry, physics, geography and languages.
One step at a time
The Scala College is currently incorporating the pillars into its lessons and every step in that direction, regardless of how small, is a significant one. However, teachers’ activities in the context of the pillars are not yet part of the general school process. And given that the objective is to provide education that does justice to all three pillars, the education committee would like to see more correlation between the pillars. Scala College’s ultimate goal is a situation in which students, within their own limitations, can make their own choices relating to the lessons they can take, examination forms and teaching material.