Building that “stairway to heaven”. Reflections on the 2016 LEGO® Idea Conference
Quality has become an important topic within the global debate around learning and education. But do we really agree about what “quality learning" is? Do we know what constitutes a quality learning experience, how to measure it and how to implement these insights nationally?
On 11–13 April, the LEGO Foundation hosted academics, practitioners, innovators, representatives from interna-tional education organisations, government officials and social entrepreneurs to address questions. The best part of the conference is knowing that what we accomplished together will have an impact on children all over the world in the long term. What has been shared amongst the participants, the real-life examples from six differ-ent countries, the four lenses, the inspiring talks and panel discussions are an ignition switch for ideas to improve learning and put quality into action.
This year, Pasi Sahlberg turned on his favourite tune and gave us a lecture on both the Lemming Effect and “The facts and the myths about the quality of education”. We might ask ourselves whether we managed to build additional steps on the stairway to heaven of education? What did we learn about quality learning?
One thing that stands out for me is that quality starts with teachers and parents. Like learning and play, they, too, make the wings of a butterfly. Quality learning can happen if teachers and parents see eye to eye on what kind of learning environments actually benefit children.
The recognition of teachers is important. If teachers receive the same respect from their environment and trust from parents and authorities, as well as having the appropriate physical spaces at their disposal, it will inevitably contribute to attracting more and better teachers to our education systems. Individual teachers can change the world for their students. They can let the children be at the centre of the learning process, and have control over their own learning processes.
Pasi Sahlberg received the LEGO Prize 2016 in recognition of his outstanding efforts to improve the quality of children’s learning worldwide. One of Pasi’s important points is that we need to define what we are doing right, and do more of that. Which implies that we also need to find out what we are doing wrong, and stop doing that.
Professor Phillip Fisher supported this approach with his argument that we have to measure the effect of the con-crete initiatives we implement to inform our own views about what constitutes quality in learning. Theories and knowledge are merely that, unless they get converted into applied research. Only by conducting scientifically based analysis of cause and effect can we gain insights into what is needed to create quality learning.
The challenge is to inject these findings into our governments and systems. We need to create a framework that allows for diverse curricula that don’t only focus on learning a specific, pre-determined set of skills. Instead they should take a holistic approach to learning by combining a content focus with physical, social, emotional, creative and cognitive aspects of children’s learning. In a couple of months, we will share with you a report with the key findings from this conference. Together, it is our responsibility to inject them into the global education debate and major platforms such as the UN General Assembly. All with the ambition to fuel the global debate and to create a framework for quality learning in education.
Hanne Rasmussen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation
Watch Pasi Sahlberg’s talk on: “The facts and the myths about quality of education”
Pasi Sahlberg was awarded the 2016 LEGO Prize
LEGO Idea Conference 2016 highlights
Watch some of the many highlights from the 2016 LEGO Idea Conference - from inspiring keynotes to interviews with different participants.
LEGO Idea Conference
LEGO Foundation interviews Pasi SahlbergThe LEGO Foundation has interviewed Pasi Sahlberg, Finnish education expert and visiting professor of practice at Harvard Graduate School of Education, about his view on quality learning, school systems and standardised tests.