Recently, we asked our Elementary Heroes a question. “What makes us different?”
Their answers shared some common themes emphasizing our studio contract, peer accountability, no tests, learning at your own pace, and projects/quest time. A central theme emerged from all of their insights. What was it? Here are some of the things they shared:
“We have more free time. We can eat lunch wherever we want.”
“We don’t have tests. We have exhibitions of learning.”
“Our studio contract. We created it.”
"We get to use our imagination a lot to create things.”
“We have guides, not teachers.”
"We teach ourselves."
"We get to learn what we want."
"We set our own goals."
"Field trips. We have so many field trips!"
"Our afternoon quests. We have new projects every session."
"We have time to work on the things we are really passionate about."
"Town Hall Meeting. We solve our own problems and come up with ideas to make our school better."
Central to all of their comments is the concept of Freedom. Freedom to make choices, Freedom to create their own rules, Freedom to learn at their own pace, Freedom to explore the world beyond the studio walls, Freedom to pursue their passions, Freedom to DO real things and see the fruits of their efforts.
Indeed, our heroes have a lot of freedom- paired with a lot of responsibility, and they own it. Most of the time. This is their Hero’s Journey. It is a sight to behold.
Freedom is central to our learning design at The Village School. In the months before opening, I would often point to this when asked, “What makes you different?”
But at the heart of our design and approach to learning- our projects, community meetings, discussions, personal goal setting, exhibitions of learning, Socratic guiding, etc. is the difference it makes in the lives of our young learners.
What makes us different?
Our Heroes. With the freedom to be themselves, to chart their own course, to have choice, voice, and a deep sense of agency each and every day, they are empowered to be their best selves and to make a difference in the world around them. They become the heroes in their own stories (and in mine)- and this is what truly makes us different.