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Mellervangskolen, Denmark

In the public school of Mellervangskolen, in Aalborg, Denmark, the teachers try to to implement creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship into their teaching practice.

In Mellervangskolen, Aalborg, Denmark there is a special room for entrepreneurship education (EE) called “Det Skæve Rum” (The Skew Room”). In the room, the focus is on creative and innovative methods and strategies to make the students think in new and different ways. Everything is allowed except saying “no”- the answer is always: “yes, and then…”. The students (aged 6-16 years) work on an 'Inno camp' for 2-6 hours, depending on age and the problem/case study. Sometimes the students have to solve a problem for a local business or the teacher has made an 'Inno camp' based on an academic task (Maths, Biology, Danish, etc.) 

EE is written as part of the Mellervangskolen school plan. The goal is that the teachers use the methods and strategies as a part of their teaching which results in developing a certain mindset in the students. This allows them to solve problems, have courage to do new and different things, and know how to develop and present an idea. As an unexpected side effect, the students develop and improve their social skills and build better social networks.

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6 themes are highlighted in The Skew Room learning activities

These six elements are important parts of the success of The Skew Room, though many more could be added.  

  1. The ICE model (Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship) - A Danish education model, the ICE model, has inspired the Skew Rooms education programme. The main mindset is that ICE concerns all dimensions in EE. Great ideas and solutions come when students are allowed to think and act in innovative and creative processes. The strict focus only on EE misses the exploration of ideas and relations in school.
  2. Everything has to be done on a time trial - The CAMPS are on a strict time base. It helps the student to think fast and let go of the interpersonal elements in learning processes. The teams are put together by teachers (or sometimes randomly).   
  3. Just 1 main rule – NONO. The best and most successful part of the EE programme in The Skew Room is, that there is only one rule. The only thing not allowed is to say ‘No’. Therefore the name: The NONO rule. When students enter the room they are instructed to shout: “YES! I made a mistake!” when they think too much alike, come up with the same ideas or if their answers fall out a little. It creates a humoristic and deeply appreciative mood. Difference is good and it is completely accepted (and funny) to make mistakes along the way.   
  4. Colours – no names. When the teams work intensively, they receive a coloured armband as an alternative to calling them by names. The colours have different roles and functions. For example, could the pink armband get the main responsibility to write down ideas that come along? Maybe green is the one who draws? The functions of the colours are common for all groups, therefore no need to discuss who does what.   
  5. The meditation bell – no raising voices. The meditation bell is a great alternative to the teacher’s voice. Naturally it can be chaotic when excited students are brainstorming, discussing, acting, drawing, etc. The energy level can be high. To create a positive and appreciative mood, the teacher's raised voice is replaced with a meditation bell. When the teachers hit the bell with a wooden stick, the students know that time is up. This replacement gives the students and the teachers a great respect and a climate where there is no need to work with negative volume (or name calling).   
  6. The big oak door as safe way to the stage - At different times during camps, the students have to stop the creative process and gather around a big door made of oak. The door makes you think of a prop from theatres and it has a fantastic ability to make the students ‘walk on stage’ feeling safe. The students communicate their ideas and get feedback from the others. Even though the door is standing in the middle of the room it seems that students confide in the fact that it its completely sound proof. The students are also allowed to walk back and close the door in case they don’t feel hundred percent sure and just need a little moment to gather a little more courage. It happens very rarely.

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Files for download:

The Skew Room.docx / 25kB
Mellervangskolen TES.docx / 15kB
Matematik camp algebra.docx / 15kB
Implementing creativity in Danish schools.doc / 28kB

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