Our approach to education is based on four basic principles:
Student-led, student-centred learning; empathy and curiosity for those
who think differently from us; having the courage to change our minds;
and having the humility to ask questions, knowing that we can't have all the answers.
We face a hugely uncertain and rapidly transforming future, meaning
young people will need flexibility of thought and resilience of temperament.
These soft skills can only be learnt in a new kind of learning environment.
The Great Imagining learning platform aims to foster this environment through
Thinking Kits - a hybrid of analogue and digital interactive learning resources
which invite creative responses from students, building a library of
transformative ideas for communities and policy makers in the process.
Find out more about what goes into a Thinking Kit:
These Thinking Kits will inspire exciting exhibitions of the future for communities,
devised and created by young people.
These ideas will place schools at the heart of the regeneration of their neighbourhoods,
transforming the collective imagination for everyone: from our thinking about community,
business and the built environment to our relationship with nature, our health and wellbeing,
and the wider ecosystem.
How are the Thinking Kits being developed?
We are developing pilots with school networks, scientists, academics and specialists
as well as web developers, artists, filmmakers, designers and art directors.
This will ensure that the content of these programmes is rigorously researched,
intelligently developed as well as playful, inclusive and broad.
What will the content cover?
The syllabus is broad, practical and topical -
covering food; clothing; architecture; cities; governance,
law; finance; technology; agriculture; forestry;
ecosystems; the solar system, and the cosmos.
The curriculum pathways will encompass problem solving,
systems thinking, team work and group relations.
The pathway outcomes will be a fusion of exhibition displays,
interactive workshops and theatre.
The pathways cover a range of styles and disciplines
from scientific research, invention, gaming, debating and campaigning
to inventing, engineering, designing, craft, performance and the arts
(theatre, music, image making, written word).
What impact will it have?
Transformative learning galvanises a buzz of curiosity
and builds a hive of creativity, discovery and action.
Guided by the UK's most inspiring creatives, all pathways will
stimulate and produce surprising, beguiling, informative, transformative work.
Why is it needed?
In 2022, 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.
Over the last few centuries, humans across the globe have
developed astonishing knowledge and technology as well as
self awareness and interconnectedness.
However, due to the complex systems we have created,
we are now in a climate and ecological emergency which is having a
catastrophic impact on the ecosystems that sustain us.
Young people need the tools to face this uncertain future
and to be coached in systems thinking in all areas of life from
food, clothing and agriculture to government, economics and law.
This will give young people power as citizens and leaders to make
huge contributions to the future for themselves, their communities and their planet.
What kind of education system do we want?
We would like to see learning environments that will
equip young people with the skills needed for their future.
These include an understanding of systems thinking,
exercise flexible and creative minds and increase everyones
dexterity and agility at making, doing, repairing and building.
It is vital that young people are able to develop the critical thinking and resilience
to navigate our complex and ever-shifting political and environmental landscape.
Our vision is for an education system that meets the needs of young people
and empowers them to develop values and purpose towards a greener, fairer, wiser world.
What inspired The Great Imagining?
The Great Imagining was developed towards the end of 2018
as a series of political, scientific and environmental global reports
and increasingly powerful activism converged
making the urgent crises facing humanity clear for everyone.
The concept was partly inspired by a reflection upon
the imperial and industrial legacy of The Great Exhibition of 1851:
the world’s first international trade fair.
Instead of a celebration of our addiction to fossil fuels during the industrial revolution
and the inequality and cruelty of our imperialist and colonialist systems -
this time we are imagining and celebrating a greener, fairer, wiser world,
transforming every school in the land into a Great Exhibition.
Designed over a century ago, our public education systems
were created for a different world.
Against the contemporary emergencies of our time,
our education systems are no longer fit for purpose.
The role of creativity in education
Our current era calls for collaborative, student-centred learning
which allows for experiment and failure.
Transformative learning as this type of learning is called, generates engagement and excitement in all young people whatever their background, abilities or circumstances.
Rethinking approaches to learning and evaluating learning, will particularly benefit
those young people who have been disenfranchised by their educational experience.
Especially those disadvantaged by systemic racism or prejudice,
and those who have special educational needs or neuro-differences.
There is a growing wealth of 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.
At the same time industries are transforming and skills will be needed for the new thinking, behaviours and business thinking needed for a greener, fairer, wiser future.
Teamwork & innovation
Many new tech 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.
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
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 collaborative nature of Great Imagining aims to empower young people
to explore forms of teamwork, discussion, conflict resolution, consensus-forming
The bespoke curricula are drawing on the principles and methodologies
of gaming and promenade theatre so that young people can follow unique pathways,
whilst interacting with each other in emergent ways.