Breaking down barriers between generations, places and time: that’s the aim of Hub School 21, a new type of school based on digital technologies, which opened its doors at the beginning of the 2017 academic year on the premises of Magic Makers in Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris. With eleven pupils aged 8-11 enrolled and modular classrooms where children can sit wherever they like, the school offers active teaching activities which focus on the children’s enjoyment. We found out more about this project that aims to “designing the school of the future.”
Hub School 21 is the brain-child of Fanny Peissik, who’s been a teacher for 17 years and is particularly interested in the impact of digital on teaching methods – she organised the very first “twittclasses” back in 2014.
“I realised that social media were a major medium for learning methods, to complement traditional tools. They can be used to promote and share meaningful collaborative projects,” says this digital education pioneer.
The idea behind this new education concept, explains Peissik, was to “reinvent education in the 21st century by deploying a new teaching and management model.” Hub School 21 addresses a dual objective: “To show that it’s possible today to stem the growing tide of disengagement and enable students to rise to the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s world.”
DIGITAL IS EVERYWHERE!
In order to do this, the school uses active teaching methods and develops soft skills: children learn at their own pace, through a personalised programme and with teachers who are “facilitators.” The twelve members of the teaching team come from a variety of backgrounds: the French state education system, non-profits and the business world. “Each pupil has a sponsor from the corporate world, so they’re in touch with the industry and the world of work and can benefit from a variety of talents,” explains Peissik.
This teaching method is beneficial at every level: both teachers and pupils are happy: “They can’t wait to come back to school the next day, and that’s really gratifying!”
As for digital, it’s everywhere in this next-generation school: the class has its own Twitter account, Instagram page, Facebook page Facebook, Google Drive account and a YouTube chain, which is rare for schoolchildren of that age.
A FLEXIBLE CURRICULUM AND COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS
At Hub School 21, the national curriculum is adjusted to suit the children’s pace and there’s a great deal of emphasis on collaborative projects conducted all year-long. This means the class can cover all the disciplines in a concrete context, get pupils motivated and develop their creativity.
For example, staff and pupils made, edited and provided the sound for a 90-second film on the subject of fraternity, using a smartphone and tablets, for a competition run by YouTube, #TMTF, “Toi-Même Tu Filmes” (“film yourself”). The classroom also conducted interviews with parents, pupils, and the experts who sponsored the project, and which will be broadcast throughout the year on the Hub School 21 YouTube channel.
These projects also clearly show that digital “is intuitively part of children’s lives,” as Fanny Peissik puts it. “But I still think it’s very important that they understand the right digital uses: how tools work, how to code, etc.,” she goes on.
Parents are also involved in school life: they have meals at school, join in certain activities and training courses, all of which helps break down the generation barriers and increase parents’ trust in the Hub School team. Digital also facilitates communication with parents and there are weekly morning coffee meetings.
“THEY CAN’T WAIT TO COME TO SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY”
It’s therefore all the more fitting that Hub School 21 is based on the premises of Magic Makers, which offers creative programming classes for 6-15-year-olds. By learning how to programme and create their own games, children can understand what goes on behind the scenes: so there are obvious links between the two activities – beyond just sharing physical space. As Claude Terosier, founder of Magic Makers explains:
“It also makes sense because we advocate using digital in teaching and learning code as part of a holistic, inter-disciplinary approach.”
Another thing the two establishments have in common: a certain agility in the way they develop their respective activities, which is why they came up with the idea to co-habit. “This agility,” explains Fanny Peissik, “is really something I want to keep because it allows us to implement projects, to constantly adapt and experiment, under the benevolent eye of the state education system.” So is Hub School 21 spearheading the education revolution? Let’s hope so.