For me, the highlight of the conference were the tours of schools in the Sydney area. The new schools we visited exhibited very progressive pedagogy with a very individualized approach to learning. Students were collaborating and communicating and presumably being creative while they thought critically about their learning. Yes, this very much seemed to be an effort to teach 21st century skills.
|Northern Beaches Christian School|
Northern Beaches is also the home of SCIL - the Sydney Center for Innovation in Learning. This entity is part and parcel of Northern beaches and uses the school to test new pedagogy and the physical spaces that support it. You can learn more about them here: scil
|MLC School Burwood|
|Collaboration Space at MLC School|
Are Australian students different than Americans in their willingness to become engaged in their learning? Its a complicated question. these schools are private schools, but 40% of the schools in Australia are private schools. They use a sort of voucher system so that private schools get state funding which is supplemented by tuition. So these students may be better off, have better parent involvement, and so may be more self directed than the typical American student. On the other hand, they are still learning 21st Century Skills that Americans at even the best public schools are not.
For me the lesson of these schools is that this approach works well if you change the teaching paradigm to give students more control over their learning. To support them once they have this control, a space quite different from the standard classroom is needed.