“It’s time for education to be transformed,” say the founders and curators of Trailblazers, a new journal about what’s happening in learner-centered education right now. Of course, we couldn’t agree more. But what’s worth noting and celebrating about this manifesto is that is it written, edited, and designed by students themselves. They plan to publish once each semester.
Anya Smith-Roman, Kaylyn Winters, and Abigail Emerson are all students at Atlanta’s Mt. Vernon Institute for Innovation (MFIVI), which is linked to Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School. As part of a unique “innovation diploma” project, the students and their friends are energetically doing all the things alternative education is about: They’re connecting with community members and entrepreneurs. They’re making choices about their own learning and creating something new and all their own. They are declaring that they want to “blur the line between school and the real world and leave the world better than we found it.”
At MVIFI, the emphasis is consistently on getting out in the community to act and interact. “Our grade book is the real world,” says 10th-grader Brady Vincent. Brady is an entrepreneur who has consulted with outside organizations and is now working on a backpack with modular, interchangeable parts.
The first issue of Trailblazers includes a look at a recent learner-centered education conference through interviews with participants. Education Reimagined‘sPioneer Lab program hosted the conference in Washington, DC, last fall, with more planned for this year.
Also in the journal: Neel Pujar, now in college at UC San Diego, talks about his experiences working on Design39Campus, a unique K-8 learning environment within a traditional public school district in San Diego. And New Zealander Kim Mi Yeoh writes about blending her interests in animals, architecture, and activism against factory farming in Auckland while studying at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Cali Ragland of Perkiomen Valley High School in Pennsylvania explains how she is pursuing a way to enhance curiosity in education and approaching it as a design challenge:
We identified Curiosity . . . as an important component and aspect of learning. We determined that this was an important quality for learning that is often not included in education, and, as a result, we are now trying to determine how a system of education can include Curiosity to better meet the needs of the 21st-century learner.
For more information about learner-centered education, take a look at the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation and at Education Reimagined, a national organization promoting learner-centered approaches. And check out the video below: