Visit To Harvard’s Project Zero Inspires RP

Creating an environment where students and teachers share a strong culture of thinking is one of the main ideas Regional Principal (RP) Simon Beaumont took away from a recent trip to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Simon was one of several RPs from Australia and New Zealand who was lucky enough to travel to the internationally renowned centre of learning and immerse themselves in the University’s Project Zero Cultures of Thinking philosophy. He came away both inspired and excited.

“A teacher should be the 'thinking coach',” says Simon. “During saelf-directed learning (SDL) lessons [we] should be roving the room challenging [students], asking open-ended, thought-provoking questions. The focus of these lessons should be exploration rather than heavily content structured.”

Simon believes that teachers need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are your students bored? If so, it's your responsibility.
  • How can you make your teaching more experiential?
  • What challenging questions do you ask your students in relation to topics covered in your classes?
  • Do teachers physically look at their classrooms from the eyes of a teenager - would they be bored? Would they be inspired?

Simon believes that implementing some of what he learned at Harvard is going to be beneficial not only for students, but teachers, too.

“I think the most important task in my role…is to identify a team of Champion teachers that can steer direction in both SDL and Video Conferencing (VC) teaching,” says Simon. “This will have a positive effect upon student learning. We should find a small block of time within the timetable for each of these teachers to work with other staff in modelling excellence.”

And if others get such a fantastic opportunity? “I would say go for it 100 percent,” says Simon. “To spend a week studying at the home of educational research is the chance of a lifetime for a teacher.”

Simon hopes that if this does come into effect, then all OneSchool campuses could work together to share their experiences.