The Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education

"Given the challenges we face,
education doesn't need to be reformed
- it needs to be transformed."

SIR KEN ROBINSON

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This is a critical moment in time when Australia needs meaningful, informed voices debating educational options. The Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education is an initiative to drive awareness, discussion and adoption of progressive approaches to education.

We believe we have to change the way our schools work. They need to reflect the dynamic nature of the world we live in, and give the next generation the education they need and deserve. An education that is based on a progressive, student-directed approach; that is focused on problem solving, cooperative projects and social skills; that encourages curiosity and play; that values experiential learning; that emphasises entrepreneurship and civic participation.

Projects

We are currently working on a number of initiatives. Each sees us collaborating with teachers, parents, academics and other organisations to encourage more progressive approaches to education.

An Introduction

We worked with illustrator Kim Gamble to explain some of the ideas we are exploring in our projects. At the heart of this exploration is a simple question - what would school be like if we invented it today?

People

Our team are supported by an advisory board of passionate educators and inspiring collaborators from other fields.

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Brett Rolfe
Executive Director

Brett is chief strategy officer at Naked Communications. He was executive producer of TEDxYouth@Sydney, and last year was recognised as one of four global winners of the prestigious Cannes Chimera award for creativity in the service of social endeavour.

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Dr. Nikki Brunker
Advisory Board

Nikki lectures in Primary curriculum studies at the University of Sydney. Her doctoral research was on children’s social and emotional wellbeing in primary school.

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Barbara Stone AM
Advisory Board

Barbara was principal of MLC Burwood and now lectures within the University of NSW Office of Educational Leadership programs on a casual basis and provides consultancy services for schools.

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Anna Fienberg
Advisory Board

Anna is the award-winning author of  more than forty books for children and young adults, including The Magnificent Nose and Other MarvelsAriel, Zed and the Secret of Life and the Tashi series. She was also editor of the School Magazine.

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Lisa Harvey Shapiro
Advisory Board

Lisa is a founding board member of the Progressive Education Network (US). She has been in the field of education for over 38 years, teaching in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Durham, NC, St. Louis and Atlanta.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

This is a critical moment in time when Australia needs meaningful, informed voices debating educational options and advocating innovative, progressive approaches. With your help we believe the Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education can be one of those voices. The Centre is an initiative to drive awareness, discussion and adoption of progressive approaches to education.

We believe that more than ever, we need to prepare and inspire our children to change the world.

The next generation will inherit many global challenges – from environmental to social; from political to ethical. Let’s nurture in them the skills and strengths to embrace these challenges and create positive, sustainable solutions. Skills like critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. Strengths like initiative, resilience, empathy and awareness.

Our schools often fail to do this. They’re distracted, their efforts misdirected. They focus on the accumulation of facts; standardised testing; deference to authority. Or they simply give in to the pressures of economic efficiency and social convention.

We have to change the way our schools work. We need them to reflect the dynamic nature of the world we live in. Schools need to give the next generation the education they deserve and need, based on a progressive, student-directed approach. An education that focuses on problem solving, cooperative projects and social skills; that encourages curiosity and play; that values experiential learning; that emphasises entrepreneurship and civic participation.

This is why we’re building the Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education, the only organisation in Australia dedicated to championing progressive approaches to schooling. The Centre’s activities will include teacher training, parent programs, conferences events, school course materials, lobbying and public advocacy. Our long term ambition is to open a small, progressive independent primary school in Sydney’s Inner West – as a world-class example of progressive practice, and a site for action research.