Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, I’m Chris, Head of Global Research at HundrED based in the Helsinki Office.
I am enormously passionate about researching innovative ways to learn for modern interdisciplinary challenges and believe that quality education is one of the most powerful ways to make progress that benefits us individually, as a society, and at a global level. I love to have deep discussions with others on actionable strategies for positive change; so, if you like to do this as well, let's have a chat!
Before starting this role at HundrED, I was a Tenured Academic Development Lecturer at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. I also served as a Committee Member with 30 selected experts from around the world to assess solutions submitted for the United Nations Solutions Summit on the 17 Sustainability Goals; and was a Science Assessor for the Curious Minds initiative in New Zealand, where I evaluated applications from community groups and scientists applying for large amounts of contestable funding to run innovative educational STEM research projects. In 2017, I was selected by the Royal Society in New Zealand in collaboration with the German Embassy to speak on ‘Artificial Intelligence in Education’ held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra.
My previous research interests have ranged widely, from understanding technology as an intervening force in the world to how new innovative and effective pedagogical strategies can enhance teaching and learning. Recently, I have been involved in a mixed-method case-study on how the metacognitive skill of computational thinking with music and programming can support learning outcomes in both domains, and to what extent creative activities can influence positive attitudes.
I have over 10 years’ experience leading, lecturing and teaching a very diverse range of students in New Zealand (university, state schools, kura kaupapa, private schools, and Montessori), Germany (international schools) and Nepal (as a volunteer in two schools) from as young as 3 to adults in music and computer science.
Why do you want to work at HundrED?
I love working in teams of smart, motivated and passionate people who relentlessly seek opportunities to learn, develop and share skills and knowledge to influence positive change. This is why I'm super excited to be working at HundrED, because I get to work everyday with colleagues who feel the same way and make new connections with others who are super passionate about the most innovative ideas and initiatives in education.
Why should we change our schools?
Too often, children in school are told at an early age that a narrow range of disciplines and skills are not for them, either directly or indirectly (for example, through standardized assessment). Consequently, many mentally shut down and then wallow in a state of apathy and boredom, believing that they are not good enough and future global challenges too great. There needs to be more emphasis on encouraging real-world collaboration outside of institutions, and the cultivation of passion, curiosity, creativity, and holistic development for all involved in the whole education eco-system. We must place less value on the testing of a narrow set of knowledge and skills, and empower students to start asking questions that lead to deeper understandings about themselves and the world we live in.
I am convinced that the hard problems we face in the future can be overcome if we share, learn, and innovate together. This begins with making quality education accessible to everyone globally, inspiring all young people to believe in themselves, and thoughtfully overhauling the old-fashioned industrial era foundational framework of school systems that are prevalent today across the world. I believe that it is essential to find a way for students and educators to adopt and cultivate a healthy growth mindset and to celebrate diverse ways of thinking from different societies, cultures, backgrounds, and personalities. HundrED can play a key role to improve these aspects as an inclusive hub for everyone across the world to connect, share, and be excited by the best innovations happening in education today.
Why is innovation in education crucial today?
I find many of the recent education reforms around the world have focused too heavily on preparing students for the ‘modern workforce’. This focus is simply a continuation of an old-fashioned utilitarian industrial aged mindset of education. I think it is critical to view education more broadly than this, where holistic development is integrated and valued so that an attitude of life-long learning and inclusive global citizenship is cultivated.
Through seeking and sharing strong pedagogically sound innovations, we can positively influence a more inclusive vision of education, so that students today take charge of their own development and become fearless in their dreams. If we broaden old assumptions of success, we can lift students up instead of pushing them down, support their intrinsic motivations, passions and interests, celebrate their backgrounds and cultures, and empower them so that they believe their voice needs to be heard. This will facilitate the formation of strong internal values that support a future of possibility and hope, which as adults, inevitably result in thoughtful actions to help progress humanity forward.
Three HundrED innovations you love.
HundrED have found no shortage of great innovations in education. It is very difficult to reduce them all down to only three, but I’ll try with four!
I am particularly interested in inclusive innovations that inspire students and educators to ask thoughtful questions about themselves, the people around them, and the environment in an interdisciplinary project-based way. Some innovations I believe that exemplify this are:
- Global oneness project; through bringing the world's global cultures alive in the classroom
- Natakallam; connecting displaced people (primarily Syrian refugees) with students around the world
- Night Zookeeper; a digital learning tool that inspires children to create their own characters who live in a magical digital world
- Think Global school; a travelling high school where students live and learn in four countries a year, making unforgettable connections between their education and the world around them.
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