The idea of Thinkers.inq grew from a discussion between two friends, Rod an Educator and Melissa an Accountant & Business owner, about a growing need in the Australian early education landscape. Many hours were spent creatively and critically reflecting upon the current early learning system and the presenting ‘gaps’.

These discussions left us inspired to create a solution in an environment that appeared to us, to require an extreme make over. The pressing dilemma was, what would be needed to address this issue and could it create real change?

After much research, drawing on years of experience teaching in the early years space and exploring sustainable business solutions we deduced there were four critical areas that could not be ignored if innovation and transformation were to occur.

A SENSE OF PLACE: When a sense of place is deeply experienced a person might use the words, ‘I feel at home here’ or ‘it’s just like family ’. A sense of place allows our body, mind and soul to relax and look outwards to explore. As this happens so our capacity to learn, grow and change is deeply impacted. This sense of place is at the heart of Thinkers.inq. Young learners will find their sense of being assured and secured, which in turn will promote their potentiality in becoming who they are. The ultimate aim for learners is for him or her to long to be in their space as part of our learning family.

THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT SEATS: The calibre of the staff was next on our radar. Any organisation wanting to make a sizable difference would only consider hiring ‘just the right person’ for the job. So we needed to have at the heart of our organisation outstanding staff that are in constant professional and personal development and who model and highly value the notion of life long learning. This must begin with their current professional knowledge and qualifications and is then complimented with coaching from industry experts and mentoring by international thinkers. Finally, these outstanding learning leaders must be paid significantly above the current industry standard to attract and retain them.

PLAY WITH PURPOSE: Play allows us to enjoy and to become immersed in the moment. Play is a time when our minds and bodies lose track of time and inhibitions, allowing new ideas and thinking to be explored in an unbridled way. It is more about the process and less about the end result. Purposeful play allows us to develop our communication skills, empathy, and relationship building, to explore new ideas, develop thinking and be curious. We have created Thinkers.inq to be a place where ideas are a part of the journey, not the destination. A place where thoughts can be captured, explored and developed in a way that helps identify and develop the potential that every child has within them. This is the process of creative and critical thinking and it underpins everything we teach and do together. In short, it transforms young learners into game changers and innovators. This is exactly what is needed to outstrip and redefine the disappointing notion of industrial methodology that is our current education system (one size fits all) and sets these learners up to be portable thinkers. The end result being that no matter where or what the problem is they are resourced to explore a resolution.

EMERGENT LITERACY AND NUMERACY: As a consequence of teaching hundreds of Kindergarten age learners it has become strikingly obvious to Rod and now to Mel that there is a gap between the expectations of a fast paced modern life and the skills required to achieve these expectations. Young learners need for this life fundamental literacy and numeracy skills to be dynamically active in their present and be powerfully launched into their future. The drawback however, is these skills are not thoroughly explored and very little appropriation of these skills is applied prior to school. Yet the current research on brain development in the early years fundamentally and conclusively states that learning in the early years is outrageously transformative in comparison to any other time in life. That’s why the Thinkers.inq program aims to actively engage all learners in the exploration and application of emergent literacy and numeracy. All appropriation will be as a result of what matters to the learner for the purpose of building their knowledge. Every discourse will have the opportunity for these emergent skills to be practically embedded into creative and critical thinking and explored in everyday settings. The outcome will be young learners who are ready to face their ever-changing world in thought, word and deed.

At Thinkers.inq these key concepts are linked together by our vision – educére (the latin root of education); to draw out and lead forth. Our aim is to draw out young learners’ capacity and to take them on a journey to explore, adapt to and engage with the world around them. This idea is what we aspire to at Thinkers.inq, for all young learners, families and communities; now and for the future.

We look forward to joining with you too as we build up the next generation of learners.

Rod Soper and Melissa Browne