Education for Social Innovation

July 31, 2015

How might we foster a culture of social innovation in our classrooms, communities and beyond?

Kids are curious. They want to know everything about the world and what exists in it, but more than anything, they love a challenge. When children see a problem they want to know how they can help fix it. Whether it’s a loose screw on their bikes or addressing climate change, when children identify a challenge, they want to do whatever they can to solve it. Life is a puzzle meant to be put together piece by piece.

So how do we harness that creativity and curiosity to create meaningful solutions for community and global issues? Our answer—foster a culture of social innovation in classrooms, communities and beyond!


Our new Education for Social Innovation course seeks to engage teachers and students by encouraging them to co-develop classroom based social innovation projects on local or global issues. Through this blended-learning process, students are empowered to identify and address issues they feel are important.

To do this, teachers are supported to incorporate social innovation and 21st century learning to address these issues while finding clear connections with their curriculum objectives.

They explore a variety of issues using a collaborative and inclusive approach, connecting their lessons to real-world problems and community partners.

The ability for teachers to engage in a process of self-learning meant they were able to choose how they wanted to implement ideas and themes explored in the course into their daily lesson plans. This was beneficial as it allowed matching of professional learning to curriculum in a way that best suited educators’ needs and the needs of their students.

Through these lessons, students identified an area of passion and matched it with a community or a global need.  Students committed three months to jointly learning about and addressing these issues in ways that were both meaningful and innovative.

When youth are not only told it is possible to make a difference, but that they have the skills to do it, they will. The Education for Social Innovation course allows “making a difference” to not only become visible, but a tangible goal that students can help to achieve. During the co-development of these projects students are told that their voices matter. They are not just taught about challenges that exist in our communities, but are encouraged to work collectively to find solutions.

   As a result of the process of collaborative     and engaged learning, students are convinced that no problem is too big. They learn that to make changes, we have to start somewhere and there is no better place than in their own classrooms. As one teacher expressed, “we confirmed our growing belief that anyone can make a positive difference as long as they care enough and are willing to do something”. These projects became more than school assignments, they become a way to engage and commit to social change.

The results of the learning journey taken by both students and teachers were showcased at our Social Innovation Student Symposium. This event brought together 25 Toronto District School Board schools, 93 teachers, and showcased over 50 projects, exploring issues ranging from women’s rights to environmentally conscious teddy bears.


With the incredible support of their teachers, students came prepared to inform, and encourage action on a number of social issues. They engaged Symposium visitors in a variety of ways by presenting their projects at information booths, classrooms, and some even participated in our ‘Big Ideas’ presentations.

The most inspiring outcome of the Education for Social Innovation course is the way that teachers encouraged students to reach beyond  the classroom, forming partnerships with local and global organizations to bring their learning to life.  We’re so proud of the incredible amount of effort and dedication teachers, administration as well as students put into these projects.

Want to learn more? Browse a full listing of the Education for Social Innovation projects created by participating teachers.

How does your school incorporate social innovation and 21st century learning into its curriculum? We’d love to work with your school, district, or ministry of education to bring this program to life in your community. Contact us at!

TIG Staff We are a group of movers and shakers. Individually, we bring our unique perspectives, creativity and talents to create a dynamic and diverse team.
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