Co-Creation for Childhood Education International

An equitable approach to collaboration that engages the assets, experiences, and knowledge of everyone involved.

As a learning organization in a learning field, Childhood Education International values and uses co-creation:

  • As a method for teaching and learning – We contribute to improved learning and development outcomes for all by ensuring that children’s ideas, desires, and needs are respected and valued We know that the most effective teaching occurs when teachers listen to and learn from children. Teachers should ask themselves not only what ideas and knowledge they can share with children, but also what ideas and knowledge children can share with us.
  • In working on projects with partners and clients – We foster the development of high-quality programming that is responsive to the evolving needs of children, educators, and communities. We accomplish this by listening to and learning from our partners and clients, engaging in dialogue to exchange knowledge and ideas with others. In this way, we build trust and understanding and ensure that the project design is contextually relevant.

Co-creation is a foundational aspect of the most effective way for learning and sharing knowledge. Whether this involves teachers working with their students or education professionals working with partners and clients, the process of co-creation can bring about bright futures for all — both adults and children, both learners and educators.

At Childhood Education International, through collaboration that engages the assets, experiences, and knowledge of everyone involved, we work toward our mission to develop innovative solutions to education challenges that affirm children’s learning and development as the pathway to sustainable futures for all.

For us, co-creation is grounded in and grows through the principles of collaborative engagement, active centering of participants, holistic decision-making, belonging and inclusion, and continuous learning.

Join us!
We adopt a learning approach to co-creation, and invite you to learn, reflect, consider, and understand the concept of co-creation with us.

Our understanding of co-creation is supported by:

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is a set of collaborative, iterative, evolving, and interactive processes that guide how people work together to develop methodologies, tools, and knowledge to achieve shared goals.

It builds upon the experiences, interests, hopes, and humanity of the people involved in these processes, acknowledging that the process of learning builds on collective knowledge and experience.

What are our principles of co-creation?

All co-creation, whether working with teachers and children to design an education experience or working with partners and clients to design a community approach to education, must include the following elements:

  • Collaborative Engagement: Through active participation and collaboration of everyone involved in a learning process — children, family members, faculty and staff, administrators, funders, partner organizations, community members, among others — co-creation emphasizes a shared commitment to, and responsibility for, shaping learning experiences through dialogue and listening.
  • Active Centering: Co-creative processes put people and their ideas and concerns at the center. Feedback, ideas, concerns, questions, needs, and desires are actively listened to and integrated into the co-creation process.
  • Holistic Decision-Making: In co-creation, decisions are made collectively, with intellectual growth and well-being in mind. Different perspectives and expertise contribute to better outcomes. When each person’s humanity is considered and conditions are such that everyone thrives, decisions will be robust, compassionate, and sound.
  • Belonging and Inclusion: Co-creation values multiple perspectives and ways of being and doing. The diverse backgrounds, languages, values, and experiences of all participants are welcomed, celebrated, and included as the community strives for equity, accessibility, and the joy of learning together.
  • Continuous Learning: Every member of a co-creative team or community must have meaningful opportunities for personal and collective growth. Valuing and making time for co-learning, such as engaging in discussions about learning or conducting assessment of learning, are critical components in co-creative processes.
  • Why do we value co-creation?

    Co-creation is an important way of working for Childhood Education International because it offers the potential to be more equitable, inclusive, and innovative. Bringing together diverse actors and multiple perspectives opens the possibility of solving complex problems in education that cannot be (and have not been) solved by approaches that are isolated and disconnected.

    Co-creation is built on engagement and recognizes that shaping solutions together leads to greater sustainability. At its best, co-creation allows everyone to be a leader and contributor, which equalizes power relations. Where there is co-creation, everyone is mutually respected and has equal value.

    What are the challenges of co-creation?

    Co-creation can be joyful and meaningful, but it is not always clear-cut or simple. It is not a final point that an organization or community reaches. For Childhood Education International, it is both a guiding purpose (the “why”) and a fundamental purpose (the “how”) for the work we do.

    Certain challenges, both at an organizational level and a systemic level, move us either closer to or further away from co-creation. We acknowledge that when making these decisions, we must consider:

  • Budgetary, resource, and time constraints
  • Strengths and talents of the co-creation team or community
  • Who to invite and include in order to shape an inclusive environment
  • Normative beliefs and practices and diverging perspectives and priorities
  • Systemic inequities and barriers that persist in societies and specifically in education, humanitarian, and development spaces.
  • What actions inform our co-creative process?

    Here are some additional thoughts from Childhood Education International to consider as you move through your co-creation journey:

  • Continuous and Non-Linear: When most effective, co-creation is continuous, non-linear, and iterative. This is necessary to ensure a continuous cycle of sharing and learning together.
  • Innovation and Experimentation: Co-creation fosters an environment where experimentation and innovation are encouraged. It allows for trying out new teaching and learning methods, technologies, and approaches to better meet the diverse needs of all learners. When co-creating, failure is part of the process; learning about our mistakes can fuel iterative, responsive design thinking and facilitate our ability to find solutions to challenges.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Co-creation acknowledges that education is not static and should adapt to changing circumstances and needs. It encourages ongoing dialogue and adjustments that revisit previous decisions and move them to the next level. The ability to be flexible and adaptable also encourages greater inclusion and invitation of ideas and approaches from others that we previously may not have thought to include.
  • Open Communication: Trust and effective, honest communication is crucial among all co-creation participants. Collaborative decision-making processes, sharing, open communication channels, and regular updates help to build and maintain trust and engagement. Inclusion and accessibility are key.
  • Asset Mapping: Sometimes, co-creation goes beyond the organization or initial community of practice to involve the wider community, such as local businesses, institutions, other organizations, and government agencies. Continually assessing the entire ecosystem and mapping assets is an important part of the process that supports the other actions in co-creation.
  • Measurement and Consideration of Holistic Outcomes: Clear goals and objectives are necessary. The impact of collaborative efforts should be assessed, measured, and evaluated at regular intervals to ensure that the initiative is not only on-track, but also working successfully and intentionally in alignment with principles of co-creation and the community’s values.
  • Agile Engagement in Cycles of Continuous Improvement: Co-creation is ongoing and recognizes that educational programs and experiences always can be improved. Continuous feedback is essential to ensure changes and improvements are regularly considered and made.
  • Join us in our co-creation journey!

    We invite you to join us in efforts to more fully consider:

  • The ways that co-creation can break down the divides that are inherent in existing power relations and eliminate barriers to working together
  • The when, where, why, and how of well-implemented co-creation work — by whose standards, toward what outcomes, or impact for whom
  • How we identify what we know we don’t know about co-creation, enter into deeper learning about co-creation, and shine light on co-creation as a continuous, open-ended process of discovery
  • How we work together to ensure that all are included in the co-creation process, from the perspective of the world as a whole that includes many diverse ways of thinking and being — including those of indigenous peoples; refugees; and people of all abilities, races, ethnicities, and gender orientations
  • The potential, promise, and possible peril of co-creation as a trending and driving force in education.
  • Co-creation at its best should be an accepted, instinctive, genuine process that helps us learn and grow together.

    Join Us

    Share your stories of co-creation to help inform our understanding and strategies. Join our online community, and contribute to the conversation. You can also contact us using our website form.