22 Jun, 2014
22 Jun, 2014
2 Jun, 2014
It has been a phenomenal year of facilitating the arts at the awesome Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. I have learned so much – especially about making films. We humbly began here, and within one iteration, we have taken off (see films below).
Of course, there is still so much learning to do. Overall though, these students worked incredibly hard to put together high production value art on almost no budget. Indeed, the goal is to make it to the pros and generate revenue. This will take various forms next year and the skills that we have acquired making these productions has us on the right trajectory. I can only imagine where we’ll be in a few years time.
Working on a giant production with so many moving parts is a tremendous vehicle for learning important cognitive processes and competencies as well as a great deal of professionalism. The key to a successful future is being able to accelerate learning and build a team of incredible talent who are super nimble that can stay ahead of the giant changes that are happening in the world.
Please watch these films below. They are proof of how far students can push and accelerate their learning if given the opportunity. I am honored to have been embroiled in the creative and collaborative process of making art with these talented young artists.
24 Apr, 2014
The Chief Learning Officer. I love the ring to it. I am convinced that this position is going to be the number one leadership role in organizations in the very near future. The world is changing so rapidly, it is exponential (especially in tech). The key to success will be how an organization can accelerate learning for its people; A fine-tuned, talented, diverse team of people who are in an accelerated learning mode that is effective at all layers will be the champions.
As a teacher at the awesome Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII), I have set out to create a very entrepreneurial mindset in our students. Not that that necessarily means business, but just the attitude of, “Get out there and make something happen!” It has definitely accelerated their learning.
The brilliant John Seely Brown, one of the world’s top innovators, has co-authored a paper entitled, “Lessons From the Edge: What Companies Can Learn From a Tribe in the Amazon“. It is a fascinating example of a group in accelerated learning. The paper stresses that it is imperative to “Re-think the way you learn from and adapt to the world or risk vanishing forever.” The authors outline 3 specific lessons to ensure that an organization remains on the forefront of innovation and change:
1. Cultivate Talent
2. Leverage Resources
3. Stage Your Moves
These 3 lessons, I think, will form the backbone of the Chief Learning Officer’s role. Of the 3, I believe that the most important factor will be the development of talent which will be the focus of the remainder of this post.
What a computer programming university student learns in the first year becomes obsolete by their fourth. The pace of change is just too rapid. The internet has leveled everything and the pace is only going to quicken as more and more people throughout the world gain access to tools that enable them to create. Indeed, it is an exceptionally exciting time as innovation can come from anywhere. And I mean anywhere. The world is only getting more and more connected and with initiatives to bring the internet to remote areas of the world (Google blimp), it will be amazing to watch the products that get developed. This in turn puts tremendous pressure on old, stodgy businesses that have enjoyed “First World” advantages for years.
Thus, it is essential to not just find talent, but develop it from the ground up and then ensure that the organization maintains an accelerated pace of learning. This is a monumental task and the key to survival.
Specific strategies to accelerate learning and develop talent:
1 Apr, 2014
Every single book, article, excerpt or quote I have read over the last few years on innovation in education includes entrepreneurship, technology and creativity. There is nothing more exciting in education than being embroiled in the creative process making things of value to better the world. There is no reason for students to have to wait to enter the pro ranks. This is especially true when it comes to tech. The gatekeepers are down and students can lead and push limits right away. It is an incredibly exciting time.
The team at Limbic are awesome and have been providing professional mentorship through building projects that the company needs. My computer team at PSII are stoked and grateful to be receiving cutting edge engineering technology training and directly applying it to real world situations.
Limbic Media’s objectives
VIATeC is, “the one-stop hub that connnects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector.”
Adam Foeller, the facilities Manager, is such a nice guy and is providing our students with a ton of opportunities. Currently, we are working on a project for them that when finished, will tour to hundreds of conferences and events. Not bad for our budding computer engineering program. Adam says that he has basically endless projects for us to do, so we are very excited to see what can be created as we evolve in skill and talent.
VIATeC’s s objectives
A huge thank you to Limbic Media and VIATeC for helping the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry facilitate these experiences for our students.
From this work, I was selected as Tectorian of the week. Read the article here.
6 Mar, 2014
I had absolutely no idea that I would be doing this this year. None whatsoever. It was sparked from a bunch of wooden theatre swords that the students were just messing around with which drove me nuts. “If we are going to play with swords, we are going to do it right darn it!” I I bellowed.
So, I called a meeting to see who would be interested in choreographing some stage combat. I did not realize that it would turn into what you just watched above. But holy cow, I am sure happy it did. This is what emergent curriculum looks like.
We went through a 4 month rehearsal and production process.
In terms of thinking in old school courses, the students covered: English, Digital Media, Film, Info Tech, PE and Dance Choreography. Pretty good interdisciplinary inquiry. However, at PSII, we are trying so hard to get away from organizing things in courses. We would rather like to organize around competencies. The students hit these making this film: Media and Info Literacy, Collaboration and Leadership, Critical and Creative Thinking, Cultural Awareness and Understanding, Personal Responsibility and Planning. We believe these are greater forms for assessment.
Adding on to all of that is the unparalelled experience of seeing a labour intensive, lengthy process through to an end. It is not about handing in assignments that only a teacher will see. It is about making valuable work to share with the world.
But even beyond all of that, the most important aspect of education is to light the fire. I mean, isn’t that what it is all about? These learners are fully engaged, doing deep research and experimenting with numerous creative avenues. These are the skills that every innovative organization wants to see.
15 Feb, 2014
At The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry, we are doing everything we can to move away from an outdated education system. Things being as they are, we need funding from the government. That means that we have to follow the BC curriculum in order to receive it. This leaves us tied to mandated learning outcomes. I have looked through nearly every single BC course and I have to say that the curriculum is in drastic need of alteration.
What is really challenging, is that our students are getting a mixed message that doing inquiry is in clash of doing courses which they need to graduate because it does not fit into the minutiae. Organizing material into courses is arbitrary. It is good to remember that. There are other ways to organize learning, that in my humble opinion, are far superior. Like competencies. And big ideas.
It is painfully apparent that education is in dire need of change. We are not just talking about it, theorizing, we are doing it – every single day. Some of the kids are having a difficult time buying into it for a variety of different reasons of which none would matter if we did not have to follow the BC curriculum which was originally designed for a system to produce factory workers. The time has come to move forward.
2 Jan, 2014
It has been a whirlwind.
Starting up a school takes wicked savvy admin skills and is such a feat, it is no wonder that seldom few attempt it. I have directly learned the madness involved from our fearless leader, Jeff Hopkins (hands down the best leadership I have ever had the pleasure of working with).
We are not just trying to start any old school either, we are trying to show the system how to change. Again, no small feat.
So, for what it is worth, here is what I have learned being a key player in starting up the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry over the last 4 months:
16 Dec, 2013
This is where I performed last Saturday. Love working ballrooms. I have done a few good Christmas parties this year. This particular one however was quite the exception…
…A room full of truckers and mechanics. It was a pretty tough show. Haven’t been heckled that much in quite some time. There was this one huge guy, looked like Stone Cold Steve Austin, loud as hell, who yelled at me almost the entire show. At the finale, as I was balancing on the ladder, Stone Cold Steve (his name was Richie) leaped onto the dance floor and proceeded to pick me up – ladder and all. Whoa sketch pilot. The ladder was folding in as I jumped off.
Something had to be done. I just couldn’t end it like that. So, I engaged him. Risky move. Large dude, drunk, rowdy, loud and boisterous. I announced I would stand on his shoulders. He immediately agreed. Up I went. The crowd went wild! Richie was solid – built like a brick house. I was feeling pretty comfortable until he roared to the room, “Who wants to see me swing this f*^%$@# around like a rag doll?” That is when I went, “Uh oh.”
I knew he wouldn’t do it though. It sounds strange, but I just knew that doing this feat, being in front of his entire company showing off was exactly what he wanted. No intention of harm. I jumped down after he walked around with me for a bit and then shook his hand and looked him in the eyes – his eyes said thank you back.
By far, one of the riskiest things I have ever done performing. The event planner gave me a tip on top of my fee. Well earned.
1 Oct, 2013
Today I witnessed courage. There is quite a shy, wilting little young woman who took one big step forward during our first improv class today. She busted out of her shell and gave it her all. It was awesome to watch. Can I give you evidence that she learned? Nope. Whenever you push past your boundaries, that is true learning, no two ways about it. It takes bravery, and bravery is what we must teach in school.
There are many out there who are waiting to be told what to do. At PSII, the training is trying to figure it out for yourself. If ever there was a skill to learn, that is the one that will stead them through the gargantuan changes shaking absolutely every industry on Earth. And it is not alone, of course, they have an incredible team of teacher experts as their guides, facilitators and confidants.
Some students are directionless, flapping in the wind. They have never not not been told what to do their entire school career. Doesn’t it just leave you breathless?
Enter the paradox of freedom. They have an infinite number of things to choose from now and so some choose none, overwhelmed with never having had to take responsibility for their own learning.
So, they turtle into what they know, even when absolute freedom lies at their feet. Thinking about education as courses one has to take rather than an inquiry one must pursue is deeply embedded into the psyche of western civilization.
But lo! It must change. It absolutely must. For if it does not, if we continue to condition people to wait to be told what to do, humanity will be in peril. It is that heavy. Courage we must have. I yell at the top of my lungs on top of a hill overlooking capital city, “COURAGE!”
7 Sep, 2013
We, the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII) have had the great fortune of connecting with the vibrant Monique Salez of Raino Dance Studio. Luckily for us, her son decided to come to the school (great guy) and we have been able to work out an excellent partnership to use her awesome dance studio only a few blocks down the road. Stoked.
The school is only intended to be a hub for the students. We want them to get out into the community to work with professionals and gain experience. Like with Monique:
“I am a flamenco artist/producer, artistic director/owner of Raino Dance & a pilates/yoga instructor. I love teaching movement, responding to music with my body, and creating with adventurous folk.”
We are currently trying to work out a plan for Monique to teach us some Efunk choreography to be put into a show in the spring. I am still in the process of sorting out my dancers, but I know that there is definitely interest. I am trying to coordinate juggling, dance, improv, acting, music, script writing, film and multimedia to emerge into a show by the end of the year.
Do not just think about school as a classroom and learning within 4 walls. The best learning happens through experience in the field. A huge thank you to Monique for helping us facilitate that.