The Joy of Learning
Watch any preschooler or kindergartener play and explore and one thing is clear: children are intrinsically motivated learners — capable of great insight, inspiration, and JOY in their learning!
The trouble is by the time children make it through traditional schooling, much, if not all, of that intrinsic motivation and joy has been lost. Rather than embracing children’s curiosity about the world, traditional schooling all too often teaches children to sit quietly, wait to be called on, engage with the world in only limited, pre-defined ways, and think of the audience for their work as being only their teacher.
But that’s not how human beings learn. Just like a baby learning to walk, and talk, we learn based on our interaction with the world, and based on what we find intrinsically motivating.
The IDEA School is about honoring the fundamental joy of learning.
What does this look like? For example, writing and performing shadow puppet plays as literacy development, and building the stage too! Or, creating Fibonacci instruments as we explore new concepts in math!
We are building a community in which intrinsic motivation is the basis for everything, where passion is the norm, and where continual engagement with the world is the expectation we all must meet.
We also are building a school community that acts like a family, in which we look out for each other, care for one another, communicate how we feel, support each other in taking risks and pushing past perceived boundaries, help each other through tough challenges and celebrate each other’s – and our community’s – successes.
We understand that science, technology, engineering, arts, and math are not discreet subjects in textbooks, but rather, inter-related disciplines and phenomena that are all around us in the world. That’s why we’re always looking for the STEAM in everything!
21st Century Skills
Here’s another thing we know. In today’s global economy, innovation, collaboration and disruptive thinking matter. A lot. There is no longer any such thing as an industry or field that will be the same in five years as it is today, much less 25 years. Everything is global and involves communication and rapidly evolving technology. Everything — and everyone — is online and collaborating.
Today’s economy demands people who can think on their feet; who can understand a complex system and devise ways to improve it; who can communicate effectively; who can work collaboratively with others to execute complex projects; who have the initiative to investigate matters on which they are not yet experts; who know how to reach out to access additional resources in order to do their work better; who are problem-identifiers, solvers and innovators.
Tomorrow’s economy will be shaped by industries that have not yet been imagined. To prepare for it, we are building a community of innovators.
Whatever professional, volunteer, or personal pursuits our graduates undertake in the future, they will approach their lives with inquisitiveness, self-confidence, perseverance, critical thinking, and strong communication skills … the kinds of skills one needs in the 21st Century.
Our graduates will have been practicing these skills and habits of mind since they were in Kindergarten. By the time they reach high school, they’ll be pros.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are building empathy and a sense of purpose and power to make positive change. Our students understand well the two rules at the IDEA School — Be kind and be safe — and we help them practice empathy with one another every day. We know that in life, it’s not enough to be smart…or accomplished. We want our students to be good and decent human beings as well, today and into the future.