Talent Incubators

Innovation in schooling is occurring at an exciting pace. In my school alone, we have a STEAM Hub, sporting academies, a High Performance Program, a School of Music, a Hospitality Trade Training Centre, a school cafe and coffee van run by students, we also have a strong student voice in curriculum design and development.  We consider ourselves to be innovative, adaptable and set our students up to be world prepared.

Schools have always been creative educational environments. They have taken this idea from the entrepreneurial world. They use the startup mentality to develop programs and practices and generally, parents want to send their children to schools that are innovative and globally connected.

The next step in education will focus on specialist schooling programs that become incubators of talent development. They will focus on building competencies that can then lead to emerging expertise. The long-term goal for these talent incubators is to prepare students for path-breaking careers, small business opportunities and online entrepreneurialism. Adolescent students, in particular, have a societal focus on health, welfare and image development.

These types of schooling structures have been trialled in a number of locations around the world and are under scrutiny, looking at their educational outcomes and career pathways.

The aptly named The Incubator School is located in the heart of Silicon Beach, Los Angeles’ startup ecosystem. This school’s mission is to launch the entrepreneurial teams of tomorrow by building a culture of self-starting. To engage students in managing themselves and their own learning, the school uses gamification, a school economy, and learning dashboards.  The Incubator School’s learning pathways embrace technology-based learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, and socio-emotional learning. The school is now in its sixth year of operation and has about 50 students. Students spend the first third of each school day learning Mathematics and English online. The school gives students access to a full suite of online curriculum providers and allows them to choose how they progress through the material. Teachers work with students to set challenges and goals and then help them achieve those goals by providing small group and individual face-to-face instruction to students who are struggling with the material.

Templestowe College, in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, uses a total individualised learning plan program. Their students do not have year levels but have a 100% selection process for their 150 electives. Students must complete basic literacy and numeracy units before they are able to join the elective pool. Templestowe uses this student selection to drive their talent incubator ideals. The college is now in its ninth year of restructured and reimagined education. One Templestowe policy I particularly find inspirational is the “Yes Is The Default Policy”.  If any student, staff member or parent has a suggestion the answer has to be “YES”, unless it takes too much time, too much money, or negatively impacts someone else.

Both of these schools run outside the normal and require special exemptions to function. My take-home message for this article is, education is changing, it is exciting and I encourage you to speak with your school about what innovative projects and programs they are working on. Talent incubators are happening and they are only getting better.

Nick Johnstone