Innovating Higher Education

Whenever we talk about transforming India into an innovation hub (such as this article in Tehelka today), or ask which sectors of society require innovation most, the overwhelming response is usually that we need to transform our education sector. We even conducted a poll some time ago that asked the same question, and the answer, then too, was education. So while most of us can agree that our educational institutions and systems need to be redesigned, there isn’t a lot of consensus, or even many revolutionary propositions, on what the new educational institute would look like and what kind of processes it might follow.

One initiative that could prove to be a successful model, however, is THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership, a post-graduate course for creative leaders. THNK is designed as a program to help develop creative leadership powers using settings far from traditional classroom and lecture-style instruction. It is collaborative, creative, playful and hands-on, seeking to develop both left and right brain faculties.

A recent blog from the Stanford Social Innovation Review describes THNK in exhilarating terms. The author writes,

Its response is to fuse innovations from the business, nonprofit, and design worlds into a new way of creative problem-solving that, to paraphrase Einstein, gets us to a level of thinking that matches the problems we face.

Thus, when THNK calls itself a “school”, it means it’s not just a place of learning, but also a “school of thought” (prioritizing creative leadership) and a “school of fish” (where a tribe of creative leaders inspire and learn from each other).

Maybe this model, where learning happens through conversation, and indeed the entire educative process is based in discourse, is something we can start incorporating in India’s education systems, especially in higher education.

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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2 Responses to Innovating Higher Education

  1. Ekta Ohri says:

    Learning through discourse is quite an interesting idea. It reminds me of my days back in grad school when my prof used to provide feedback over my thesis draft through a casual dialogue in a non classroom environment. That was by far the greatest learning experience of my life!

  2. ayesha says:

    agreed, ekta, i felt the same at reed, where we used the conference system and classes were limited to a maximum of 25 people, and were most often smaller. the hierarchy of professor and student was minimal, even absent, and all these elements made for some of the best conversations – and best learning experiences – i’ve had.

    a stark difference from st. xavier’s in mumbai which i attended for a year, where classes were always lectures, with a minimum of 100 students in the hall at any given time, face time with professors was pretty much non-existent, and even interaction between students was limited to outside the classroom.

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