Published on August 22nd, 2016 | by ECSWE0
ACTS – Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills
UK children are currently among the most highly and continually tested and yet among the unhappiest according to the recent OECD report, while Finland’s children excel educationally, and are among the very happiest, without the burden of continuous standardised testing.
Inspired by the work of the WGSI 2030 as reported by Michael Brooks in his article ‘Invest in Minds not Maths’ (New Scientist, 2013), the UK Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) began research, based upon international experience of successful Steiner pedagogy, into what is needed at Secondary School level to enable the greatest flexibility and creative thinking skills in students.
In 2015 the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) was awarded, as lead partner, €423,000 Erasmus+ funding to support of this research and completely rethink the established, test-driven education culture. The project is called ‘Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills’ (ACTS) and the objective is to develop and accredit a new qualification for launch in 2018, which acknowledges and aims to consciously develop creative capacities and competencies. The qualification aims to become a valid alternative to students completing school education that seek progression to further/higher education or employment. The Diploma will be written to  and will be available in any country where there are schools approved to offer the qualification.
The project has been described by EU assessors as
‘…forward looking’ and ‘highly strategic’… based upon research and a ‘solid analysis’, representing a ‘….paradigm shift … offering a highly credible, valid, portable alternative with results that would not be possible or desirable if developed by a single country. All phases of the project have been thoroughly considered and are designed to realise the project’s objectives and deliver robust outcomes’.
The innovative approach of the ACTS project avoids the need for continuous standardised testing while actively supporting inclusive multiple learning styles and proactive creative thinking. The ACTS project lead partner is the SWSF working in collaboration with the UK based Awarding Organisation, Crossfields Institute, and school associations from Finland, Norway and Denmark, to develop a new qualification that is internationally available, which can identify and recognise transferable capacities and trans-disciplinary competencies in a way never achieved before.
On-going research undertaken at a series of international ACTS conferences in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo and London, is investigating the layered nature of thinking, and how best to exercise, enable and develop that thinking, alongside the necessary flexibility between different thinking skills in a variety of contexts. Curriculum development includes the integration of formal, non-formal and informal learning.
These conferences have benefitted from insightful contributions from Dr. Michael Brooks (WGSI 2030 Learning Summit), Prof. Hanne Leth Andersen (Vice Chancellor, Roskilde University, Denmark), Prof. Adam Zeeman, (Neurology, Exeter, UK) and Prof. Oren Lieberman (Architecture, Salford) and others.
This project has also drawn the support of Nobel Prize winner for medicine (neuroscience), Prof. Thomas Sudhof, as its patron.
In addition to this, the Waterloo Global Science Initiative 2030, created jointly by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Waterloo University, Canada, has posted a WGSI blog in support of the Acts project and aims, and Finland’s Ministry for Education is now showing a keen interest.