“Learning is an experience. Everything else is just information.” – Albert Einstein
Learning at The Village School is an active experience that connects young people to the community in which they live and beyond. Since September we have invited over a dozen Community Partners and guest speakers into all three of our studios and taken over 9 field trips out into our resources-rich community to learn from experts in their own environments.
Learners have welcomed entrepreneurs and experts into our school including guests from Breaking T, Wealth over Now, Sloppy Mamas, The Stark Lab, Headrush, and Northpond Ventures. Three published authors have spent time in our studios including two local teens who published their first book when they were still in high school.
Learners have also ventured out into the community for a total of 9 (and counting!) field trips to the Natural History Museum, Hirshhorn Gallery, National Gallery of Art, the National Geographic Museum, The National Zoo, The Botanical Gardens, local nature preserves, and even the movie theater. In addition to field trips learners travel off-campus each week and head to the public library, the neighborhood park, and who could forget the local ice cream shop for an end-of-session sweet treat.
Experience is one of the three main pillars of the The Village School learner experience, and as you can see, we are loyal to our design. As our learners enter middle school, the experiences we create have an even broader purpose: to grow each learner’s individual social capital – or what we like to call, their “village.” Since the pandemic and the renewed focus on young people’s social-emotional health, the idea of a young person’s social capital has caught the attention of education researchers.
The research defines social capital as “the resources that arise from a web of relationships which people can access and mobilize to help them improve their lives and achieve their goals.” In a recent virtual Town Hall hosted by Getting Smart, educational thought leaders and researchers discussed social capital as relationship mapping. The discussion focused on two questions:
- Do you know who your learners know?
- What if schools could authentically engage with all of the people learners already knew beyond the classroom?
At The Village School we have always believed that young people are capable of more than the world gives them credit for, and our commitment to that belief is enacted through developing their social capital through our middle and high school Apprenticeship Program. The experience-based Apprenticeship program places trust in a young person to learn about themselves, explore interests, and develop passions through active participation in the world of work. A Village School high school graduate will leave our community with an expansive web of connections that reflects 7+ Apprenticeship experiences, and a sense of self and community support that will far exceed their peers.
This session middle schoolers will be challenged to begin thinking about their own social capital and mapping their own relationships. Their goal will be to identify potential apprenticeship placements and arrange a job shadowing experience to walk in the shoes of a professional for a day. We challenge middle school families – and all of our families to consider the question: Who do you know who might help one of our young people discover their passion?