A Paradigm Shift In Education
In 2015, a group of teachers from the UK, Finland, Norway and Denmark, came together to resolve a deep-seated problem experienced by students: Standard School-leaving exams impose ever greater demands and heightened stress levels, but ultimately dampen the potential for innovative procuctivity in adulthood, as was noted by THE WATERLOO GLOBAL SCIENCE INITIATIVE 2030.
The teachers aimed to find a way to raise attainment for all, reduce early school leaving and make education more meaningful and practically useful for all, through the integration of formal, non-formal and informal learning. This project is proving to be remarkably successful.
Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills (ACTS)
Funded by the EU Erasmus+ (Key Action 2, School Education Strategic Partnership), and described by them as a ‘paradigms shift’ in education, the Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills (ACTS) project sought to redesign qualifications to truly meet the needs of today’s young people, growing up in a complex and uncertain world where creativity, adaptability and flexibility of thinking will be a premium alongside the competent mastery of a range of disciplines. The initial aims of the ACTS project have been decisively met and now offer schools and policymakers internationally, a significant, credible alternative to current provision.
A comprehensive open access book has been written outlining the underlying principles and exemplar methods.
Research and development project
The Acts project is a research and development project to facilitate creative thinking and maximise potential in all students through an integrated approach to curriculum development and implementation, combining the highly focused, analytical thinking and memory training often involved in formal education, with the softer focus, non-verbal esperience of ineractions and context that is often found in non-formal and informal learning.
EU assessors praised the acts project design as:
- ‘forward-looking’ and highly strategic, based upon a ‘solid analysis with ambitious outputs’
- ‘offering a highly credible, valid, portable alternative with results that would not be possible or desirable if developed by a single country’
- Including ‘novel working methods to motivate students’
- ‘all phases of the project have been thoroughly considered and are designed to realise the project’s objectives and deliver robust outcomes’.
The five strands of the ACTS project
- Curriculum Development to enable and enhance an identified spectrum of creative thinking skills within curricula that supports formal, non-formal and informal learning and is flexible across a range of national requirements. Completed 2018.
- Qualification Registration onto the English national framework, formally recognising and validating transdisciplinary integrated education and creative thinking skills. Completed 2019.
- Open Access Book: Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills: Educating for a creative future, outlining the creative thinking skills spectrum and where they can be found, enabled and enhanced. It also offers a detailed contextual overview to the origins of the problems facing education and society and why such a paradigm shift is needed. Completed 2018.
- Teacher Training Programme: postgraduate certificate in Philosophy and practice of Integrative Education. Completed 2017 with first cohort graduating 2019.
- Conferences Workshops and Events for dissemination and continual professional development for teachers, school governors, business, higher education and policymakers, explaining the theory and practice of this approach and/or providing assessor training. Ongoing and available upon request by contacting mailto:email@example.com
There were five school association and education partners involved in the ACTS project, representing four countries. These included:
- Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (UK and Ireland) as project lead
- Steinerkasvatuksen liitto (Finland)
- Steinerskoleforbundet (Norway)
- Sammenslutningen af Frie Rudolf Steiner Skole (Denmark)
Crossfield’s Institute (UK) as the awarding
The creative thinking skills spectrum
The key Creative Thinking Skills Spectrum, identified and defined by Elaine Holt, are developed through the integrated approach currently found in Steiner schools, and articulated by ACTS in a way that can be internationally relevant, attainable and assessable. This Creative Thinking Skills Spectrum comprises:
- Written articulation
- Verbal articulation
- Non-linguistic images in thinking in 2-dimensions
- Structures metamorphoses in thinking in 3-dimensions and over time
- Resonance and patterns in thinking
- Heuristic thinking/improvisation
- Observational thinking
- Coordinated thinking
- Critical analysis
- Reflection on perception
This broad range of specific creative thinking skills, enhances and enables meaningful creativity across all disciplines both in education and the workplace, providing for improved creativity and innovation to be embedded alongside technical expertise. While some of these creative thinking skills are already recognised and acknowledged through standardised testing, others are not. Because of this, these other skills – like the unseen part of the iceberg – are often overlooked in assessment practices. They are also often underdeveloped and poorly integrated into primary and secondary (high school) education, leading to inevitable imbalance and the current shortage of the effective creativity and innovation so needed in higher education, healthy social function and the workplace. Further background and information is available in the open access book Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills: Educating for a creative future.
The innovative suites of core and extended school-leaving qualifications, developed by ACTS, have now been launched by the awarding body, Crossfield’s Institute and are available to all schools, both nationally and internationally, as follows:
- Crossfield’s Institute Level II Integrated Education Certificate (Age 14+)
- Crossfield’s Institute Level III Integrated Education Certificate (Age 16+)
These qualifications each contain two modules:
- An Independent Project, which allows students to follow their passion and explore an interest or career aspiration in-depth whilst developing the ability to self-direct and coordinate their own learning.
- A Creative Thinking Skills Module, which develops skills in making connections and using different perspectives to communicate ideas or concepts, deepens reflection on the basis of recent judgements. It can draw on formal and in non-formal and informal learning and any area of the taught curriculum.
The Integrated Education Certificates can stand alone or form part of the following Diplomas, maximising flexibility and making the approach relevant and accessible across the widest possible demographic, including disadvantaged students. These diplomas include:
- Crossfield’s Institute Level II Integrated Education Core Diploma (Age 14+)
- Crossfield’s Institute Level III Integrated Education Extended Diploma (Age 16+)
The qualifications deliver a broad curriculum which will be taught and assessed using transdisciplinary work with a focus on collaborative and individual project work and problem solving. These are now open for registrations and interested schools are invited to seek centre approval by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.