A COMMON concern of modern education is the fact pupils spend too much time learning facts to pass exams.

This method of crude rote-learning is seen as the enemy of pupils’ natural inquisitiveness and fails to prepare them for the real world.

Now a Scottish school is trying to break down the traditional concept of the curriculum to give pupils a more innovative experience.

Loading article content

Kelvinside Academy, in Glasgow, has set up a partnership with the US-based NuVu company, which was established in 2010 by graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For two weeks this summer the traditional timetable will be shelved at the private school and instead pupils will spend their days creating and testing solutions in cutting-edge areas such as biofashion and swarm robotics with top academics.

Rather than being assessed by an exam, pupils will present their finished project to guest experts including professors, entrepreneurs and designers for constructive feedback.

Kelvinside Academy headmaster Ian Munro said he was keen to explore alternatives to the traditional curriculum model pursued in Scotland.

He said: “Is it possible that schools as we know them in the UK are no longer best suited to equipping youngsters for life beyond the classroom?

“I am not convinced that discrete subjects and a high-stakes exam system based largely on factual recall is really of benefit to youngsters, both intellectually and pastorally.

“NuVu is a place where students and teachers explore ideas outside of disciplinary boundaries and immerse themselves in the innovation process. Pupils can solve real-life problems through a critical, rigorous, and iterative process and mistakes are encouraged.”

Saba Ghole, chief creative officer of NuVu, said the trip to Glasgow was the first time NuVu had worked in Europe after developing in America and then expanding to India, Singapore and China.

She said: “One of the largest issues in modern education systems is the primary focus on test taking. The current systems have built themselves on a vast infrastructure of content memorisation and standardised exams.

“At its core, these type of systems dramatically thwart opportunities for creative and integrated learning.

“This method reduces the learning process to pure absorption and memorisation.

“We are overcoming these barriers by creating a school geared around a hands-on, studio-based learning environment in which we eliminate many of the major road blocks to active learning.”

This NuVu school was the brain child of Saeed Arida, who explored the concept in his PhD dissertation while studying at MIT.

He collaborated with two other MIT students, Ms Ghole and David Wang, to found NuVu Studio. About 3,000 students have gone through the programme.

Students are presented with real-world challenges and learn to solve them in a variety of ways, including scripting and producing a documentary, designing and creating a robot to solve a problem, or building a bench where humans and animals can coexist in the same space.

The project portfolios can include art, media, writing, film making, robotics, engineering and sensory experience.