There was a point, not so very long ago, where we felt a little apart. We are not angling for sympathy - it’s not like that. But words like outliers and alternative were often used to describe us, with phrases like challenging the status quo giving us a bit of a cool rebel vibe that we might have secretly liked, just a bit.
The truth is, however, that this idea of bucking trends, challenging existing paradigms and all the rest of it, is not actually our vision or identity as we try to bring change in education, but simply a means to an end. We don’t want learner-directed environments to be out there on the fringes. We don’t want the centring of passion and purpose, connection and creativity to be “alternative”; what we want is to be mainstream.
If we want every single learner in the world to have the chance to bring their passions to light and to feel supported in becoming who they want to be, then this means we have a responsibility to share, inspire and grow together with others.
Be the Catalyst to Transform Education
For us, and perhaps for you, there is a growing sense that our voices are being heard and that the movement is gaining pace and traction. Our mission to positively transform education worldwide and create happy, lifelong learners that flourish in life is growing stronger. It's reassuring that fellow educators and education leaders validate the reasoning behind our actions here at Learnlife.
Being featured in the report by Catalyst 2030’s Issue-Based Education Collaboration “Pathways to Transforming Education” was one of those moments where we started to see the dots joining. We read the full report and saw what we do featured alongside so many other inspiring cases, but all within the discussion of a global approach to policy change.
Learnlife was also chosen from over 3,000 applicants as one of the most impactful and scalable innovations in education as part of the HundrED Global Collection 2023. Our Elements of Learning Innovation recognise the critical role of learning within a positive community and aim to develop lifelong autonomous learning capability. By authentically activating learner agency, any learner is better prepared for an ever-changing world.
Valerie Hannon's recent thinkpiece, "The Future School," argues that creating schools fit for the future can benefit from drawing on sets of design principles used by organisations that systematically engage in future thinking. Learnlife is mentioned as a representative of the 5th archetype (Growing Entrepreneurs and Changemakers) among the six models or archetypes of schools that shape the future. It is an honour to be recognized as a learning community contributing to the future of education and inspiring change alongside other great schools from different parts of the world.
The global call for education reform is beginning to really resolve from a cacophony of different ideas and frameworks, to simple, universal principles that we can all agree on. There should be debate and discrepancy in the way we do things, and that’s ok because true learning environments cannot be separated from the diverse communities they are part of. This is why we talk of spreading and not scaling and why sharing insight and learning from others is at the core of our mission to bring positive change in education.
Parents bring their children to us because mainstream education has underserved them, and they know that there is a better path. Our Learning Guides come to us often from traditional schools because they feel that something just isn’t right and want to be in an environment where they can remember the reason this profession called to them in the first place.
Our Alliance members support us because they want to do something about the state of education and perhaps see in us an opportunity to contribute to the much-needed change in education through research and thinking that will actually reach learners and not remain in academic papers and well-intentioned journals.
The Change in Education Starts with Re-imagining Learning
What is more recent, and so very welcome, is the growing interest from other learning organisations both formal and informal, in using our own journey and the evidence of impact it bears to reimagine what their own learning community might look like.
This shift from individual to organisational interest and engagement is perhaps a barometer for a wider current of change flowing through education systems worldwide as we begin to take more seriously the role of education in preparing to meet the challenges of a volatile world ahead.
Perhaps even, there is a growing acceptance that mainstream approaches to education have long since run their course, in much the same way as we can now accept that the industrial-economic model on which it was based has produced only a hard stop to the idea of infinite growth. We must now grow in other ways.
Last year, we opened the doors of our learning community to welcome and inspire others to turn their vision into action. We made lots of meaningful connections and enjoyed two inspirational days with over 30 education leaders, learning innovators and educators from across the globe who came to join us in Barcelona.
So, following the success of our first Inspire event, we are delighted to open our doors once again. From 18th-19th May, school leaders, education authorities and edupreneurs are welcome to see first-hand how our learning community works, with visits to our own Learning Hubs and a partner Hubling on their own transformational journey. This is a chance to inspire change in other spaces by inviting those who can and are willing to take that forward in their own setting.
Place is such an important aspect of the paradigm shift in learning, and there is just no substitute for time within the physical learning environment, to imagine, immerse ourselves and internalise what might be brought home and how. Questions can be answered and discussed in situ, and the learning opportunity extends beyond the visit, with the invitation to join an active community focused on continuous professional development.
It is a bit lonely to be the one in a school who says “this ain’t right”, or the team pushing for change against a culture which confuses stability with stagnancy. Finding your tribe is an important part of the process of change in education; a wellspring of energy and ideas, and a redoubt from which to retrench and sally forth once again. You will find that here.
To be a part of this, our doors are open. Join us on 18th-19th May for two action-packed days of tours, workshops and building meaningful connections at Inspire, and let’s explore how to move from vision to action together. We look forward to welcoming you and supporting your transformational journey!