What we set out to achieve was to evolve our Edinburgh College Mentoring Programme into a more expanded and integrated programme which could be introduced into Secondary Schools.
We learned from our industry mentors and we looked at the growing body of work and opinion that said "meta skills" (creativity, problem solving, innovation) will become highly valued as an asset in the work force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, not least of which because of the advent of Ai.
We created Daydream Believers, which is a creative problem solving and critical thinking programme led by Edinburgh College, Skyscanner, AmazeRealise, Whitespace and Education Scotland.
Our initial target audience was S2, (12-13 yrs. old), as it appears that this may be the stage at which the skills we are offering become not just relevant and applicable but are being seen as having a role across much of the school curriculum. We also felt that pupils begin to form their longer-term choices at this point and needed to be introduced to the concept that learning creative skills was a gateway to rewarding and viable careers either in the Creative Industries or as an increasingly applicable adjunct to other careers.
Our approach is to up-skill our teachers to coach and facilitate experiential ways of student learning based on play, context and purpose. We want to inspire our young people to build new things and to create meaning in today's networked world by allowing them to release their creativity through our structured resource and to show how this can be applied across the curriculum and into the work environment.
In up-skilling our teachers and providing a vehicle for delivery we have created a unique resource which relates directly to the National Standards Framework.
Our strategy developed from an Employer Mentoring programme, preparing our students for that leap into employment, after we realised that we could apply the same principles back down the educational ladder back into Secondary Schools and use the principles of the "creative process" integrating them into the school curriculum via the lesson plans drawn up by employers.
Daydream Believers is a free online resource for teachers to facilitate the teaching of creative thinking, problem solving and innovation, (Meta Skills) in secondary school pupils across a range of disciplines. and is designed to be part of a continuing process that is then developed into Further and Higher Education and finally into the work environment.
Some felt Schools, Colleges and Universities were not always providing an overlapping, integrated approach to secondary school subjects, by "signposting" that the subjects they started studying at school were precursors to subjects that could be studied in further education and then could be taken on into their working lives.
Our challenge was to support teachers in schools to value and deliver these increasingly essential skills and to devise ways that our partners and employers could connect and share their expertise.
The real innovation is the creation of a bespoke online internet resource designed by industry professionals and educators, conjoining pupils and teachers, students and lecturers with employers and employees in an educational process that starts in schools and ends in the workplace. Through the use of carefully structured lesson plans we are teaching innovation, creativity and problem -solving skills that overarch the curriculum as it is now developing.
In June 2017 20 pupils aged 12- 14, from schools across Edinburgh became our first ever Daydream Believers. These pupils had won their place on the project as a result of their submissions to an online project supported by our College students. Initially our students visited their schools and delivered a taster session of the Daydream Believer experience and then pupils submitted the work they produced.
Using our College students as Creative Ambassadors to deliver this initial taster event, and later on, other parts of the actual Day Dreamer Believer project, has been very effective and enhanced the credibility of the project. Students speak the language of learning from the perspective of learners and have proven extremely effective in communicating the ethos of the project in an accessible manner to their contemporaries.
The overall aim of the week long project was to introduce 12 -14 year olds to a creative process, similar to that taught at College, and thereafter applicable to the work environment. By building the project around the concept of Day Dreaming the project focused on how their own creativity could be applied to a learning experience. Throughout the week our College students worked alongside the pupils on various challenges, sharing their insights and skills. Promoting creative thinking and guiding the process.
The Daydream Believers website was launched on Monday, 19 August 2019 with over 218 hours of lessons from ten different contributors, Employers, Colleges and Universities.
In the month since the launch of the website (19 Aug) we have had 3,152 Unique Visitors and 10,506 Page Views
In January 2017 Edinburgh College partnered three of Scotland's top employers and agencies: Skyscanner, AmazeRealise and Whitespace. They each designed a programme of delivery that provided resources for a one-hour weekly class working with 12 -13-year olds in secondary schools for 15 weeks. We asked our partners to provide context for three essential skills: complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
They achieved this through the use of various mediums: case studies, video content and digital presentations - amongst others. With the support of the teachers and the six High Schools involved in the pilot - Tynecastle, Balerno, Ross High, Liberton, Royal High and Drummond - we created lesson plans and helped our employers pitch their content at the level.
In January 2019 we invited lecturers from all the Art Colleges/ Universities in Scotland to work with us on the Daydream Believers project. Lecturers from Edinburgh College of Art, Duncan of Jordanston, Gray's School of Art, Napier and Glasgow School of Art are currently working with some of the teachers involved in the pilot. Together they have created content that appears alongside the content of the employers on the website. This further reinforces the essential soft skills and analysis in project-based learning.
Together with the support of Education Scotland we are examining ways that the employer driven content on the Daydream Believers webpage could inform and shape the creative curriculum at Nat 5 and Higher level. We are currently looking at developing a National Progression Award (NPA) in Creative Thinking.