Research and Innovation – both – underpin the work of the foundation. Our practice shows that great education pays attention to three aspects: emotional well-being, creativity and learning. For children to flourish, we need to attend to each aspect. But stories alone are not enough. If we are to widen the definition of ‘great education’ to include more than the current narrow emphasis on cognitive skills then we need to underpin this approach with rigorous science. But in addition to strengthening the empirical basis of what we are doing we are pulled to the ontological basis.
So although we value rigour in research it is not our aim to increase the ‘stock of knowledge’ but more to generate fresh insights that can be used to develop new theories and models, ideas for practice and applications. We are asking: how might new theory help us think new thoughts? What doorway to possibility opens up when we bump into living theory? Over the last decade, we have engaged in formal research projects, often as partners with universities, but we also encourage practitioners to write up their reflections in an informal way. It is part of their own process of learning and evaluating but it also provides rich anecdotal evidence that others can draw from.
We tend to build our research design using action research methods but working systemically means research method and design is an interesting area in itself. For example, three questions we hold, amongst many others, are: How can the system be represented accurately? How can valid data be revealed when working with the invisible? How can we bring together a phenomenological approach with the more conventional objectivist paradigms used in education. They are great inquiries to hold.
And finally, written into our purpose is the intention to share our findings widely. To this end we are developing a web based platform that can connect teachers, leaders, community workers, researchers from around the world, to allow them to share, learn and innovate together.