6 December 2017

Kaospilot is a business and design school in Denmark, and is one of Sky School’s founding education partners. Co-founder of Sky School Polly Akhurst spoke to Simon Kavanagh, Director of Kaospilot Learning Design Agency, about the Kaospilot’s unique approach to creating learning journeys, and why the Sky School project is important to Kaospilot.

Polly: Describe Kaospilot in three sentences

Simon: Kaospilot is a social enterprise and leadership school. We create the space and authentic learning journeys for young activists and changemakers who are at different stages of their careers. We do it in a way that anchors a philosophy and approach for how to be co-creative and collaborative and create powerful learning teams.

Polly: Tell us a bit about your role at Kaospilot.

Simon: I have been working for Kaospilot for 11 years. For the last five years, I’ve been working to share and spread the Kaospilot methodology and pedagogy for how to facilitate and hold spaces for transformative learning. Specifically, I’ve led the development of an affordable three day masterclass - the Art and Craft of Facilitating Learning Spaces -  for educators who want to work in an alternative way but who lack confidence or a framework for sharing with their colleagues. We’ve also found that many educators do not get support from their peers, colleagues and leaders. Over the last four years, we have have reached over 2,500 educators, and have engaged with 250 universities. The aim of the course is to give educators the confidence to create learning journeys rich in autonomy, action-based learning and risk-taking.

Polly: Tell us what is unique about the Kaospilot way of teaching and learning.

Simon: The most important thing to know is that at Kaospilot, we learn by doing, as opposed to only reading or studying theory. 50% of the time is spent on action or practice. Reflection is hugely important, but you can only have reflection when you have powerful learning experiences.

Our focus is on enterprising leadership and practice, and we make this as peer driven as possible. While we as the organisation set up the framework for learning, the students are responsible for planning and organising their own projects. They are responsible for at least 50% of the programme that they study - and that is incredibly empowering. It prepares our students for the real world.   

Polly: Kaospilot focuses a lot on team-based pedagogy. How does this work?

Simon: At Kaospilot, It means that students solve problems as a team, applying different methods together and being aware of the process that the team is going through. When the team is diverse, and everyone brings different ambitions, skills and experiences, then team-based pedagogy is very powerful.  At the same time, it also means that we put a large focus on reflection to maximise learning.

Learning only works if the team has a chance to apply their learnings from past projects with other projects that might be more challenging or more complex. What usually happens in schools is that students receive a good grade and then they move on. That means all the potential for learning as a team is lost. This is why we emphasise reflection so much - 20% of our students’ time is spent on reflection. There’s a lot of talk about peer to peer learning, but that usually focuses on groups of 3-4 people. We have many more people learning together: we call it team-based learning.


Polly: What led you to become involved in Sky School?

Simon: I feel a strong desire to support refugees as they have very little control over what happens to them. Displacement is often long-term and these are years they can never get back. My interest is in co-creating an empowering methodology which focuses on social enterprise and innovation that has the potential to change young people’s lives.

Polly: What parts of the Kaospilots methodology can be best utilised by Sky School and why?

Simon: At Kaospilot we have 26 years of experience in training generalists to meet, define and react to unmet needs. Can you do the same with refugee learners, or do we need a particular focus, for example, on civic engagement? I think the hook is focusing on enterprise and leadership - and the methodology is about finding the right balance between theory,practice and context on both a local and global level. I think were Kaospilots can really contribute is creating content that is engaging and that supports the real and relevant needs that the young people have in the contexts that they are in, as well as to train facilitators in delivering highly engaging learning programmes that meet the participants where they are at and co-create and build capacity, confidence, self worth and empowerment of self and others.

Polly: What are the qualities people need to thrive in this ever changing world, and why?  Are these similar for people in different contexts?

Simon: For us here at Kaospilot it’s all about co-creation, and learning how to collaborate. We cannot get much done on our own. We need to share ownership and collaborate with partners - this is what we need to learn to do better. Ultimately it’s also more fun! No one wants to work on their own. The other important quality is the ability to take responsibility. In an educational context, this means taking responsibility for one’s  own learning, which is of course also linked to taking responsibility for your own life and future - and this is key to both the Kaospilot and Sky School ways of teaching!

Polly: Why would you encourage students to come to Kaospilot?

Simon: Because we are a generalist education - the idea is that students come and find out what they can contribute to the world. Our students go through that process and grow their passion, purpose and profession, and we then help our students find a way to sustain that economically. Everyone can apply! We are looking for people who feel that with the right framework and support, they can have a positive societal impact on the world. If you feel this way, you would benefit from Kaospilot - we can give you the training, knowledge and support to do it. In fact, we have just launched the application for Team 25.

We try to provoke and inspire educational change in institutions. If you are a professional and you feel that the way you are currently working is not sustainable and is not developing talents, but you cannot take three years out of your life, come and join the co-creation & creative-leadership programmes.

If you are an educator and you’re sick and tired of seeing unengaged young people in your classroom who will be the future leaders of society active citizens, then come to one of the Kaospilot KPLDA master classes as mentioned above.

Further information and resources on Kaospilot:

For general information see here.
For information on Kaospilot’s methodology see here.