Beliefs and Guiding Practices

Our Beliefs

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”   W.B. Yeats

From the moment we are born, we absorb and digest every aspect of our world. We learn to walk assisted only by the gentle guidance of those around us and our intense will to move. We learn to talk driven by our determination to express our already vast needs and wants.

We believe this innate intellectual force exists in every child and should be protected and nurtured. As we allow children the space and time to pursue their interests and passions, we reinforce that learning is not work but a joyful pursuit.

What does it look like?

“We have plenty of people who can teach what they know, but very few who can teach their own capacity to learn.”  Joseph Hart

Our collaborators (teachers) see their job as creating a robust learning environment filled with the kinds of rich science, math, social science, art, and literacy provocations that meet children where they are, build upon their intrinsic motivation to learn, and allow them to pursue developmentally appropriate and relevant learning on their own terms, both individually and in collaborative groups.

Further, our collaborators document and discuss with one another the learning they see, so they can extend upon the students’ learning in ways that are engaging and authentic.

Our collaborators have the capacity to engage in this level of in-depth inquiry into their students’ learning and their own teaching practice because we afford them daily time for this critical collaboration with each other and with the broader community, and because we intentionally keep student-teacher ratios extremely low.

Our students learn in mixed-age groups in a largely choice-based program (built around content area centers) and receive support from all of our collaborators. Our student-collaborator ratios range from 10:1 to 15:1 depending on the activity.

To attend an upcoming Prospective Family Info Night, contact school administrator Jayme Berge at jayme[at]explorebuildlearn[dot]org and include “Family Info Night” in the subject line.

How to Talk to Family and Friends about IDEA School!

Because our school is so different from other schools — and from what we experienced growing up — it can be difficult to express why we’ve made this choice for our children’s education and why we love what we see in our child’s development. The following points are meant to help make this a bit easier!


IDEA Students develop their abilities to express their ideas creatively and to apply creative problem-solving strategies.


At IDEA, students learn to assess and evaluate information through a critical lens.

  • Kids are well-equipped to find the information they need using the internet.
  • Rote learning and memorization can stifle and stymie a love of school and learning. IDEA School kids love school because it’s meaningful to them. 


Learning at IDEA is not competitive, it’s collaborative.

Teachers at IDEA make learning relevant and engaging to kids.


IDEA School Kids are allowed to develop and explore their interests using real-world tools including technology, 3-D printers, electronics, visual art tools, science tools, writing, etc. 


Our program allows our students to grow into self-directed learners.