Advertising agencies are the ones who don't care about ethics and sell the consumer crap for gold. That this exists in advertising cannot be denied. However, it is also a fact that there are agencies that accept social responsibility. For two years now, Leonard Sommer has been devoting himself to a project close to his heart, without a budget and without advertising lies: The agency head of Sommer + Sommer collects ideas for the school of tomorrow. During two workshops at the Cannes Lions Festival, Sommer presented the key findings of his own research and called on creatives from around the world to actively collaborate on the vision of the school of the 21st century. Participants should develop new ideas and inspire the Classroom Think Tank initiative.


With the visions he has collected, Sommer wants to work with the advertising industry to bring about "change in the ailing education system" and "stop the suppression of creativity in the classroom." And it's not because the agencies lack talented young people. Sommer looks beyond the industry plate. "Our schools are not prepared to educate the next generation. Developing the creative potential of each individual is becoming increasingly important. Creativity is an essential value-creation factor within the new economies of the innovation age," the creative told W&V Online ahead of the Cannes workshop.











Cannes workshop with international cast: Classroom Think Tank by Sommer + Sommer.


We now know more precisely how the school of tomorrow could better respond to students and prepare them for the challenges ahead, because the results of the "Classroom Think Tank" are available, including the surveys on the topic conducted by Sommer + Sommer, Stuttgart, together with the  Berlin School of Creative Leadership has performed.

Competition for the best grades, the need for conformity, and a jam-packed curriculum are the biggest barriers to creative learning in schools around the world, he said. In addition, standardized teaching methods left little room for alternating solutions, and the often dreary-looking classrooms did not provide an inspiring working atmosphere.
Here's what the students surveyed had to say. In addition to this representative survey, Sommer spent the past two years talking to students, parents and creative professionals in Europe, the U.S., China, Japan and Australia - and looking for practical solutions.

Sommer's interlocutors and the workshop participants gush: "I would build more empty time into the schedule," suggests Magnus Linqvist, author of the book "The Attack of the Unexpected," for example. "Then there would be time for play, thinking and boredom," Lindqvist says.

"We need to get rid of the watches," demands Grant McAloon, CD by  Leo Burnett in Sydney. "Some children finish earlier, so they can go straight to the next lesson. Others need more time; we don't have to put pressure on them to finish on time. School classes need more time flexibility to allow for creativity."

One might be that teachers, Sommer says, need to "take on the role of 'talent coaches' and become facilitators in a culture of creative learning" rather than remain "keepers of conformity." Keith Reinhard, DDB Worldwide board member, agrees. a.D.: "Instead of cramming facts and theories into students' heads, teachers should challenge them to find creative solutions to real problems, to stimulate children creatively. Actually, it should be like in agencies: There, creative stimulation means confronting employees with off-the-wall thinking and unconventional thinkers - that's how it should be in schools, too." (Reinhard's full post here.)

This has evolved into the "Change Framework," a strategy model for promoting creative thinking in secondary schools. This is based on five pillars that he has filled with ideas from creatives around the world: organizational design, learning culture, teacher competencies, teaching methods, and assessment system. "Imagine a school where no degrees are awarded by teachers. Imagine students who have to evaluate themselves and justify why they are rewarding themselves with a degree," muses Tom Hidvegi, chief strategy officer of DDB in Budapest.








How to encourage creative thinking at school: Summer + Summer.


The "learning resource model" (inspired by the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt), for example, is used to organize the school of the future: "School hours are consistently structured into 50 percent for pure knowledge transfer, 30 percent for concrete project work and 20 percent for the promotion of individual talents," Leonard Sommer explains. "One child wants to dance, another wants to paint, the third is interested in technology. They should all be allowed to realize their potential in these areas and receive individual support," says Sommer. In this approach in particular, all-day schools could play an important role in giving children free choice as they seek their preferences.

83 ideas have been developed in the meantime. In the coming year, the best ideas will be discussed together with education experts and innovators in the USA. Through the intensive collaboration in Cannes, opportunities have arisen to push the project internationally. Sommer is not only in contact with educational experts and creative people, but also with the International Child Art Foundation, which will involve him in the "World Children's Festival" in Washington next year. To complement this, Leonard Sommer plans to publish a book entitled Classroom Think Tank. In the long term, Sommer wants to bring the ideas to the attention of renowned experts so that something changes.