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Katherine Mengardon
Ambassador, Academy

Katherine Mengardon

I'm an education writer and strategist focusing on developing child-centric, play-based programmes for children and young people in and out of schools. I am the author of 3 Little Inventors books.

I've been working on developing education resources for over 20 years, always working on bringing real life into the classroom, but also bringing subjects to life in a more relatable way for children and teachers. For the past four years, I was Chief Educator at Little Inventors, where I designed programmes and challenges and wrote resources. Harper Collins approached us to turn these into a book, and I jumped at the chance. The Little Inventors Handbook is a best seller, and led to a commission of three more books. 

I think we need to realise that children should have agency over their own learning, that they are natural knowledge sponges and that traditional education models unfortunately rarely support this. 

When I'm not in education mode, I am also an illustrator and paper artist perching imagined families in trees and transforming rock stars into cats. It's a lot of fun. I can't resist a good (or bad) pun, cake or kitten. 

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

I believe that we need to radically rethink education to be more child-led, more skills based and above all, bring some fun back in the room. Learning should be the most exciting journey that we start as children and never truly leave. I want to be part of the community that can make this happen.

How can education support students to flourish?

Education needs to be a way to facilitate learning, in a safe and engaging environment. An opportunity to explore and try things, but also learn that failure is not a negative, it's a different and valid way to learn. It should be about starting lots of little fires of curiosity and inquisition and building responsible, caring, thoughtful and informed humans.

What role does innovation play in education change?

we need to rethink education, right now, and the only way to do that is to innovate. In radical ways but in more subtler ones too. We need to change the script, but if we try to do it all in one go, it's a losing battle. How can we offer innovations that fit within the current system yet show the benefits of doing things differently? I believe this slow, definite but immediate approach is key.

Three HundrED innovations you love. (and Why?)

I love Education Cities - bringing in the principle of collaboration between children and adults across sectors. It's democracy demonstrated at its best, in and out of the classroom. My Machine in Belgium (and beyond!) is equally brilliant at fostering collaborations, a brilliant way to empower children of all ages to believe in their ideas, and understand what it takes to make them happen.

Three innovations you would love for HundrED to know about. (and Why?)

Little Inventors invites children to think up and draw invention ideas with no limits, and gets makers to bring them to life - celebrating imagination. Raheen Fatima is Pakistan's youngest female stand up comedian and entrepreneur. At 13, she's showing that wisdom and humour are not just for adults. Art Hoppers is a brilliant London org that immerse kids in whole school creative projects