Endeavour School

Why Change?

Posted on 17 March 2017

Greetings to you all

Endeavour School is proud to call itself an Innovative, Flexible Learning Environment.  As such it
operates in a very different manner to "traditional single cell schools".  Not only is it physically different but pedagogically (how we teach), as well.  

The question is often asked  "why change?".  The education system in New Zealand has served many generations extremely well and in many areas, New Zealand has been a world leader.  It is often said "the education system worked for me" or "I've turned out ok so why change?"  The answer is simple; we are educating children for their future and their future is very different to 
what we have experienced, or are experiencing.  The needs and competencies of 21st Century Learners will be different to what past generations have needed and as schools, it is our role to prepare students for their lives.  

Traditionally schooling has worked to what can be described as an 'industrial model' focusing on the transmission of knowledge.  The knowledge is held by the teacher, it is de-constructed so the student can remember it in chunks and at some point, the student is asked to reconstruct the knowledge in the form of a test, an essay, a poster or powerpoint.  How well the student regurgitates the knowledge determines whether they are a 'good learner' or not.   This mode of schooling is no longer needed.  If a student needs a fact they can simply use Google on their phone.  21st Century Learners need a different set of skills and competencies if they are to be well prepared for their future and Endeavour School has designed a curriculum and a pedagogical approach that we believe will better equip our students than traditional models can.
When we started conceptualising how teaching and learning would look at Endeavour School we had two key questions: What is powerful learning and what is powerful to learn?  There is a 
significant body of research that tells us 19th Century industrial models are not suited for 21st Century Learners and also a growing body that is starting describe key elements of 'Innovative Teaching and Learning'.  The research told us there are 7 key elements we need to consider:

• Make learning & engagement central - every learner must be making progress with their learning and achieving to their potential

• Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative - children can gain deeper understanding of the concepts they are learning if their work collaboratively, based on Vygotsky's 'social constructivist' theory

• Be highly attuned to learner motivations and emotions - personalise learning so it is authentic and relevant 

• Be acutely sensitive to individual differences - recognise the diversity that is in our community and that children learn in different ways

• Be demanding for each learner but without excessive overload - learning needs to be challenging 

• Use assessments consistent with learning aims, with strong emphasis on formative feedback - our assessment needs to tell what the next steps for learning and feedback centred on; what are we trying to achieve, how much progress have we made and what are our next steps?

• Promote horizontal connectedness across activities and subjects, in and out of school - through our Inquiry E5 we develop authentic learning context that integrates a number of curriculum areas.  

(OECD (2013) Innovative Learning Environments, Education Research & Innovation)

In addition to the 7 elements Endeavour School have used the New Zealand Curriculum (2007) as a guiding document, particularly focusing on the Key Competencies (p.12) to help develop our
Endeavour Learner Profile.  We have ' Endeavourised' the Key Competencies by creating the
Endeavour Thinker, Explorer and Citizen.  The Endeavour Learner profile brings to life our beliefs
about our students need to live, learn and contribute as members of our school community.  

Data is beginning to emerge about how Innovative Learning models have a positive impact on learning that makes them more effective than traditional models.  In my next blog, I will share how the physical spaces are designed to enhance learning and meet the needs of all learners.




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