Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Run away and join the circus.

What is the atmosphere, (or ambiance!) of your school? For many schools the quest is for order. Teachers come to value order and see it as a litmus test. Like in "Lord of the Flies", young people go feral without adults present to bring structure to their lives.

School is an institution. We have a uniform, rules, and a timetable. We have a very clear hierarchy. And, as I've discussed before, it is interesting to note who the privileged speakers are, both in class and also among the staff.

I am not criticizing school-as-institution. Hospitals are institutions, work places are institutions, and an ability to fall into disciplined line is crucial. Discipline, and pressure, and sharp leadership bring out great things in human nature.

I do not believe in Rousseau's noble savage.

But... what are we missing out on when this is our dominant model? Our measurement of success?

Can you do better than 'well-ordered'? Could we be more ambitious?

School is a community. Hospitals are communities, work places are communities. These operate best when people have a strong sense of belonging and identity, of what they have to offer, and a unifying sense of higher purpose. Whether we think of school as institution or not, they are communities.

What if the atmosphere of a school was 'festive' rather than 'ordered'?

I am thinking of school space as performance space rather than ordered space.

The circus metaphor comes to my mind. A circus is highly ordered, and disciplined, but our cliche image of the traveling circus is one of strong community, personal dedication to the community, a thirst to impress with one's best, a delight in adventure and a delight in constant change.

Think of all the baggage that comes with our image of the circus. Compare that to the baggage that comes with our image of what school is.

There is such a weight of expectation about school and the importance of order. It comes from all of us because we all went to school. Parents, teachers, politicians and children all buy into the BIG IDEA of school. It is portrayed in soap operas and Hollywood films. It is a giant social construction.

Ever want to run away and join the circus?