Acesco is a school just outside Barcelona. It is a concertada school, which means it is a blend of public and private, but it operates within the state mandated curriculum.
For some time now, Learnlife has been working with Acesco, initially delivering training to support teachers with the demands of education during the early stages of the pandemic. This was really the start of a positive relationship, which was built over several months and opened up a wider conversation about what more we might do together.
Acesco’s cultures of thinking project was already underway, launched as an initiative to really answer the question of how they might better serve learners, and how more opportunities for metacognition, critical thinking and lifelong learning skills could be facilitated.
This is not an easy transition to make, where much more autonomy is given to learners. Such changes do not happen overnight. However, this is where the Hubling concept comes into its own. Where it is not possible or practical to overhaul systems and structures, a space can be created from which to germinate positive change more incrementally.
In terms of building learner agency and supporting self discovery, the maker culture of a studio is a perfect fit. In Acesco, after some initial skill building around maker culture, learners will build towards a more developed project by the end of the year.
Montserrat tells us that at the moment, “our students have knowledge, but they are completely dependent on their teacher for the step by step processes of how to do them, and they don’t know how to start”.
In September 2021, the labs and physical learning spaces began with a workshop-like approach, which will build towards greater learner autonomy by November, when the self-led projects will begin. By this point, five labs will be active in the Hubling, where learners will “own” their projects, from fashion and podcast editing to carpentry and 3D modelling, and teachers will transition from instructors to being another available resource in the learning environment.
The really exciting part of this is that this all takes place within the traditional curriculum. The learners choose the tutors who can best guide their projects, but within this, there is a mix of the theoretical and the practical.
For example, in the Acesco technology class, learners will still work on their theoretical constructs, and this theory is completely coherent with the curriculum. However, there is a critical difference: learners can contextualise this theory with their own self directed projects, and express the physicalisation of this theory within the lab of their choice.
This is an example of disruptive change within an existing traditional model of education. It comes from, as Montserrat put it as “a feeling that something was missing.” and that “learners needed to know why they were doing what they were doing”.
The plan to bring the Hubling into Acesco to address this has already proved popular with learners, parents and teachers and has exciting opportunities to develop.
In this sense, Acesco are not only pioneers, but they are true partners. Between Learnlife, Acesco and the learners, the co-creation of this project can grow organically in a number of directions, to influence wider teaching culture in the school, to bring in more transversal projects where the lines between subjects blur to reflect that non siloed fluidity that is more reflective of the real world, where maths and carpentry do not exist separately.
We are excited about this, and wanted to share this story with you, and we invite you to watch the discussion with Learnlife and Acesco in the video below. Towards December 2021/January 2022 we would love to share more on the impact and progress of this project, and to begin sharing the insights with other schools who work within the state curriculum but feel, as we do, that something important is missing.