Innovative culture, from paper to classrooms

There is a great difference between an innovative project and an innovative culture.  In addition, and perhaps even greater, when one’s ambience is as ambitious as that of educational innovation, the first one goes through a concrete project.  It is no more than mere innovation.  The second includes a daily ongoing process which originates from teachers’ implication so as to reach classrooms and from a policy and strategy which has been defined within the organisation.  And from there, results within students, innovation’s the leitmotiv in educationThis is what Begoñazpi Ikastola, a centre which has included educational innovation as its benchmark of its strategic plan since a decade ago, tries to put forth on a daily basis.

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Innovating culture is an ongoing process which originates from teachers’ implication so as to reach classrooms.

Yet, what is innovation?  What does it consist of?  How does one innovate?  And more importantly, what does one innovate for?  These are the questions this blog -innovation whiteboard- will try to respond to step by step and by means of the embodied array of projects at Begoñazpi Ikastola.

Why innovate?  That is the question

And that first question at the time of innovating in educating comes together with others:  what type of students do we want, what type of people do we need in the future?  These questions are the seed of an innovation plan in education.  Nerea Begoña, Begoñazpi Ikastola’s principal states:  “we want students who are able; COMPETENT SO AS TO face the challenges which they will have to face in life.  For instance, being able to manage information which comes to them, filtering it, finding it, processing it and making it theirs.  Among others, these COMPETENCES are what today’s student needs.

We need competent students; competent in order to face future challenges.

Yet within this theoretical scheme lies concrete cases.  Therefore, the student who seeks Begoñazpi Ikastola should have the competencies which future society demands which are no other than the ones we live out today.  Consequently, he/she should know how to speak in public, present and defend a project, have social abilities, be emotionally balanced….  And obviously, face his/her career with ideal technical, emotional and technological competencies.

This is to say, innovation within education pursues obtaining better results,  at first hand academic, yet also to a student’s and his/her family’s personal satisfaction, and therefore, contribute added value to the construction of a society which shows more solidarity.  “We cannot offer our students XX century education if they belong to the XXI century.  Now, in fact, that knowledge within itself which is ever changing by nature has taken second place as we want people who are “competent so as to obtain that knowledge and use it for society’s well-being,” states this Bilbao Ikastola’s Principal.


How does one embody innovation?

Once the objectives for the what for have been stipulated, the centre mulls over the how, the steps which are to be taken to embody advances within the student body.  It is important to follow up on any advances within the sector, research and in the same way, always be “on the ball.”  Thus, for instance, Begoñazpi Ikastola closely collaborates with Harvard University, under the watchful eye of researchers and experts such as David Perkins or Robert Swartz.  The Ikastola collaborates with organisms such as Dalton International.  It works around Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and cooperative work inspired by the Johnson & Johnson brothers …  From there onwards and by adapting one’s learning ways to that of students’ own personalised intelligence, the teaching staff at Begoñazpi –a team of more than a hundred teachers- starts to introduce different projects within the classroom.  These may be of a technological, research, understanding, languages … nature.

 Begoñazpi Ikastola collaborates in a close-knit way with Harvard University, closely observes researchers and experts such as David Perkins or Robert Swartz, collaborates with organisms such as Dalton International and Johnson & Johnson’s cooperative work ….

The proof of all of this is numerous:  Begoñazpi Ikastola is a digitalised centre (teachers upload their subjects to Moodle Management Platform) in secondary.  In primary and infant education, they work with tablets.  Robotics has become widespread as a subject throughout all educational stages; in classrooms “learning for understanding” is applied, students take part in different brainstorming sessions; it is the students who help one another at different subjects; projects so as to strengthen languages are varied;  solidarity is also put into practice …  Even innovation goes through more basic yet necessary matters as is the case of building architectonic distribution to name one.  And, more importantly, this process is unstoppable.

Older students of all ages help younger ones at Begoñazpi Ikastola.  This makes up the centre’s innovative culture in education

Older students of all ages help younger ones at Begoñazpi Ikastola.  This makes up the centre’s innovative culture in education

Results, indispensable

And students perceive this way of approaching education –as active learning- with satisfaction since in the first place, they become their own learning’s main protagonists and moreover, since their academic and personal results improve day to day.  The most comprehensive way to measure educational innovation is by means of results although one cannot always calibrate these by means of data.  “It is useless to simply do things for the sake of doing; one has to measure it,” summarizes Nerea Begoña.  Marks, PISA assessments, Selectivity marks … are objective data to which one has to add other items or indicators so as to arrive at an objective assessment from intangible results, from family’s and students’ personal satisfaction to students’ capacity to access higher education, among others.  All of this makes up a comprehensive management chart which has been implemented at Begoñazpi Ikastola as the benchmark of innovative culture which goes from theory to the classrooms with exceptional results.

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