During colloquium two with Mike Hourahine of Think Global School, the following question was posed, what is the purpose of education? Mike refined the question further and commented that the purpose of required secondary education is essentially to prepare students for university, whether they are suited to it or not. This comment resonated with me because I have been contemplating what school could be like without the constraint of assessment for tertiary admission. Mike believes it is important that students learn how to learn, learn about themselves and be able to collaborate, and Think Global School attempts to do this by building changemakers.

I had not encountered the term changemakers in K-12 education so I went looking for examples other than Think Global School and found the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website. Like Think Global School, they want students to thrive in a modern world and find solutions to complex problems. According to the information on the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website (n.d.), a changemaker is:

  • an active contributor
  • thinks boldly
  • asks why?
  • wants to make a positive change in their community
  • actively solves problems
They also identified the skills required to be a changemaker:
  • empathy
  • creativity
  • thoughtfulness
  • leadership
  • teamwork

I could not find any evidence of schools in Australia promoting themselves as changemaker schools. However, I do think some schools attempt aspects of a changemaker curriculum using project-based learning or through extra-curricular programmes. I have come across students who are aspiring changemakers within our social justice programme, however this is an extra-curricular activity and not part of the curriculum.

Changemaker schools are re-imagining education despite the challenges. This video explains more about the movement and the challenges they have faced.

Retrieved from

Do you know of any schools that encourage their students to be changemakers?


StartEmpathy (n.d.) Ashoka Changemaker Schools. Retrieved from



6 Comments on Changemakers

  1. Amanda
    July 31, 2017 at 11:12 am (4 years ago)

    Hey Karen

    I hadn’t heard the term changemakers before either. I think the ability to ask why is important. I always think of when my kids were little and they were constantly asking ‘but why’, this was their attempt to learn more about their world (annoying at the time but clearly important). In science we do this at university but it seems to be lost at the high school level. I think we need to ensure we don;t stifle the natural curiosity of our students with too much focus on content.


      August 1, 2017 at 12:23 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks for the link Lisa, it does look interesting. I have followed them on Twitter @EduChangemakers

  2. Heather
    August 1, 2017 at 2:00 am (4 years ago)

    Educhange does look like an interesting event, pity about the timing, I think I’ll up to my neck with the Case Study by then. One to put in the calendar for next year when school holidays will be completely mine to do what I want with!

    I so agree about schools stifling creativity and wonder and at least part of the cause is the focus on the end – the all important ATAR. But kids change too, there’s a lot of hormones and other stuff going on. This is my 4th year at my school, my first ongoing experience with P-12. Kids who I first met in grade 3 and 4 are now in year 6 and 7 – the changes in them are enormous, I notice how differently they relate to me in the library, it’s almost as if they’ve never met me before. Back in year 4 they loved to come for a chat and now…

      August 2, 2017 at 1:21 am (4 years ago)

      Hi Heather
      Agree about the timing of the Educhange event. I think the case study will be all consuming.