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Generate new ways to look at a challenge – Case clinic session


Our partner TRACES – a think-and-do tank in Paris, France – has been exploring how guided discussion groups can be a helpful exploration tool for Open Schooling projects to look at a challenge and develop new approaches for responding to this. Malvina Artheau and Claudia Aguirre trialled a case clinic format as the Schools As Living Labs approach to tackle issues faced on the ground by informal and formal science educators trying to implement Open Schooling.

Whether it’s a big question, a small doubt, or a need for clarification when implementing a new process questions and issues raise. All of us – science teachers, educators, or practitioners – carry questions around with us. Most of the time, we find ourselves unable to provide an answer because we continue to go in circles within our own same thoughts and experiences.

A case clinic session guides a team or a group of peers through a process in which a case giver presents a case, and a group of 5-7 peers or team members help as consultants. A case clinic session is structured according to a framework of 6 steps, originally developed by action researcher Otto Scharmer of the MIT. The role of the facilitator is crucial here to ensure the structure is adhered to. The priority is given to the professional development of all participants through collective thinking and reflection. It’s more about learning how to dig into a situation than an exercise of brainstorming for innovative solutions. The purpose is really to access the wisdom and experience of peers to help respond to an important challenge.

We found that using case clinics was a great way to support the implementation of new processes and methodologies, especially ambitious projects outside our comfort zone. It has proven to be very successful for Open Schooling explorers. Want to give it a try?


The Case Clinic “Step by Step”, “Facilitation Guidelines” and “How it goes” act as an introduction for everyone who would like to facilitate a case clinic. They will be useful for educators and practitioners aiming to unblock a situation that seems stuck, to re-evaluate things they believe to know well, and to develop different solutions. The guidelines and step by step are made for the person who will facilitate the case clinic. The “How it goes” document can be sent in advance to the persons who will participate in the case clinic.


Next time one of your colleagues comes to you looking for some inspiration and advice on a tricky situation, why don’t you invite the rest of your team to take part in a case clinic?


A case clinic session doesn’t need a lot of preparation, all you need is a room with comfortable chairs. Note that a case clinic can also be convened online. Create and keep a safe environment for everyone, take time to clarify the problem – as we try to understand the disease not only to treat the symptoms – and rely on the case clinic format.

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