The Great Imagining

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Transformative learning programmes for UK schools

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The Great Imagining: a festival for the future

Together with the worlds best experts and creatives, we are developing transformative learning programmes for schools and communities to inspire a collective imagination of a greener, fairer, wiser future. 

These programmes are building towards a 2 week festival for schools in the UK which will be enjoyed by the whole community. These festivals will be devised and created by the students and will place schools at the heart of the regeneration of communities as we rethink our future world.

How are the programmes being developed?

We are working with scientists, academics and specialists as well as artists, filmmakers, designers and art directors to ensure the content and quality of these programmes are rigorous, intelligent as well as inclusive and broad.

The syllabus topics will be broad and current - from food, clothing, architecture, cities, governance, law, finance, technology, agriculture, forestry, ecosystems and the cosmos.

The curriculum pathways will cover problem solving, systems thinking, team work, group relations, and psychology. The outcomes will range from scientific research, invention, gaming, debating and specific interest campaigning to construction, image making and performance (theatre, music, art, written word).

What will it look like?

Transformative learning galvanises a buzz of curiosity. Every school will be a hive of creativity, discovery and action. Guided by the UKs best creatives all pathways will stimulate and produce fantastic inspiring work which will be surprising, beguiling and delicious. 

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Why is it needed?

In 2021, we are faced with unprecedented challenges

from structural inequality and mental health crises,

the fast-moving pace of artificial intelligence and the erosion of democracy

to the devastating effects of climate change and

ecosystem degradation.

Why is this needed?

Climate and ecological emergency: Over the last few centuries, humans have developed astonishing knowledge and technology as well as self awareness. But we are having a catastrophic impact on the ecosystems that sustain us. Young people need to be given tools in systems thinking and in the contemporary knowledge and paradigm shifts in all areas of life from food, clothing and agriculture to government, economics and law. This will give them the power as a citizen and as a leader to make a huge contribution to the future for themselves and their planet. 

What kind of education system do we want?

Our young people need learning environments that will equip them for the skills needed for their future. This includes systems thinking, flexible, creative minds and dexterity and agility at making, doing, repairing and building.

The Great Imagining will empower young people to be healthy, confident and powerful citizens and leaders within their communities and workplaces.

It is vital that young people are able to develop the critical thinking, skills and resilience to navigate this complex and ever-shifting landscape.

Our vision is for an education system that meets the needs of young people

as well as empowers them to develop the values and purpose

that will enable leadership and citizenship

for a greener, fairer, wiser world. 

What is it inspired by?

The Great Imagining has been partially inspired by a reflection upon the imperial and industrial legacy of The Great Exhibition of 1851 - the world’s first international trade fair.

This historic fair, which took place in what came to be known as the Crystal Palace - a purpose-built glass building in Hyde Park - was, at its time, a celebration of manufacturing, innovation, technology and art.

This time instead of celebrating the Industrial Revolution, Imperialism and Colonialism of the societies that got us where are now, this time we will be imagining a Greener, Fairer, Wiser World and creating these exhibitions in every school in the land.

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Transforming education

Against this backdrop our education system is no longer fit for purpose. Designed over a century ago, public education in the UK and beyond was created for a different world.

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Learn. Imagine. Create.

We are working with partners and schools throughout the UK.

We are working with creative partners and experts, regional partners as well as the schools themselves to provide a growing wealth of training, pledges, commitments, initiatives, resources and funding.

These programmes will support students and their schools to be leaders in their communities and be active in building a thriving, ecologically sustainable future.

The role of creativity in education

Our current era calls for collaborative, student-centred learning which allows for experiment and failure. The benefits of this kind of classroom practice far outweigh the challenges. Transformative learning as we call this type of learning, generates engagement and excitement in all young people whatever their background, abilities or circumstances.

This rethinking of the approach to learning and evaluating learning, will especially benefit those young people who have been disenfranchised and disengaged by their educational experience; those who are disadvantaged by systemic racism or prejudice; and those who have special educational needs or neuro-differences.

There is increasing research and consensus around the value of teaching for creativity as well as practical skills and physical activities throughout all levels and disciplines.

For example the 2020 Arts Council sponsored Durham Commission has recommended that the government set out a National Plan for Creative Education.

New paradigms & pedagogies

There is a growing consensus around the kind of learning that will create the workforce of the future. This agreement is shared by most industries, from traditional workforces such as retail, tourism and manufacturing to successful contemporary businesses exemplified by global technology companies.

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Teamwork & innovation

All these organisations are asking for student graduates who are creative and innovative thinkers; able to work in teams; confident in groups and can build shared goals and develop new solutions within fast moving contexts.

How the syllabus is being designed

We are working with designers, researchers and editors to build a landscape of knowledge and ideas encompassing the rich interconnectedness of our world.

The Great Imagining syllabus is an exciting cross-curricular banquet of subjects from ecosystems, natural resources, biodiversity and nature to revealing the human-made systems of our contemporary planet.

These resources are unpacking astonishing facts and information about how we live - how we clothe, and feed ourselves, power our homes and machines as well as organise our increasingly complex communications, laws and governments.

The syllabus is drawing on existing expertise, knowledge and research to highlight the risks and challenges as well as the beauty and potential of our present and our future.

This research is also revealing green shoots of innovation and best practice - inspiring glimpses of what a balanced, healthy, thriving future could look like.

To deliver this wealth of knowledge and research we are making a series of brilliantly researched, highly illustrated, books — the Thinklopedias.

These books and resources are being supported by a playful digital network of additional content and downloadable material from our partners and collaborators.

The syllabus is designed to be interactive, drawing on the work done in the schools themselves, building and learning from the hive mind of human intelligence.

Curriculum pathways - learning adventures

The Great Imagining offers young people different pathways to explore its syllabus.

These customised navigation routes ensure satisfying, meaningful experiences for the students - and plenty of free choice - while delivering a high quality rich and engaging exhibition for the audience.

The Great Imagining curricula pathways are encouraging and drawing on all our values using the capacities of curiosity, collaboration, critical thinking, imagination, creativity and resilience.

...and the innovative curriculum pathways.

Like the syllabus, the pathways of the curricula are being designed in partnership with expert practitioners from many fields from theatre, gaming and film to develop multiple ways to help the students navigate the landscape of our syllabus both as individuals and in groups.

The Great Imagining is celebrating collaboration at all levels. This key ingredient aims to empower young people to explore forms of teamwork, discussion, conflict resolution, consensus forming and self-governance.

The bespoke curricula are drawing on the principals and methodologies of gaming and promenade theatre to keep engagement dynamic so that young people can follow unique paths and interact with the syllabus and each other in emergent ways.