Talent 100’s new HSC learning centre is inspired by Google’s Silicon Valley campus

- September 1, 2015 2 MIN READ

It’s coming up to final exam season for year 12 students around Australia, which means tutoring centres are packed to the brim with nervous students. However, instead of keeping kids glued to the books, one Sydney centre is taking a leaf out of Google’s book, encouraging students to take time out to nap and recharge in spaces inspired by the tech giant’s campus.

Richard Chua, a former business strategy associate at Google’s Mountain View headquarters now studying an MBA at Harvard Business School, wanted to create a supportive learning environment that was a good mix of school and home for students at his Talent 100 tutoring centres.

Chua opened his own tutoring centre while at university, having achieving a UAI score of 100 on his own HSC, the final set of high school exams in NSW. He has implemented his HSC study strategy in the centre, with Talent 100 helping students pick subjects, and attain a rank within their school for these subjects, which will scale their marks well. The new Google-inspired design is part of Chua’s goal to help students work smarter rather than harder.

“Studying at school might traditionally be quite hierarchical and quite top down, but our centres have recharge and re-focus rooms. There’s pods and there’s a communal kitchen, and so what we find is students actually spend a lot of time here when they don’t have class,” Chua said.

The recharge spaces offer mindfulness, meditation, digital yoga, and brain training via smart screens, while the centre also has interactive iPad stations, LCDs, and iBeacons to help augment a student’s experience, and breakout spaces and pods where students can connect devices via USB ports to study alone or in groups.

Though Chua admits work/life balance isn’t all that widely accepted or practiced in Silicon Valley, he said he wanted to recreate the region’s work/life blend – the idea that when you’re really passionate about something, there doesn’t always need to be a distinction between your work and your personal life.

“If you make the environment inspirational enough, you don’t need to draw a fine distinction between where work stops and life starts,” he said.

“The manifestation starts on Google’s campus, where they have gyms and a lot of recharge rooms, and really colourful and bright offices. Our centre shares more similarities with an incubator than a traditional classroom. There’s a place to hang out, there’s places for brain games and digital yoga as well. It’s something quite different and it’s something that just hasn’t been done for school students.”

Studying at a Talent 100 centre works a bit like a gym membership – students pay for a class each week or over a term, with that fee entitling them to come and use the centre’s facilities on days they don’t have class.

The new flagship centre opened in Chatswood, on Sydney’s north shore, last week.