Research: There’s a movement happening in education that seeks to validate the learning that students do outside of the formal academic setting. Important skills can be gained in a variety of areas outside of school, including sports, music, art, volunteer work, or any other passion—activities that truly express student personalities, interests, and achievements. The challenge schools face now is to formalize a process that expresses these learning experiences and acknowledges the learning they’re already engaged in.
Practice: We’ve always known that learning isn’t confined to a classroom or school setting. This is why we encourage students to follow their passions and allow them time in their schedules to do so. It’s also why at the high school level we allow students to gain credit for activities they pursue outside of school, including PE, volunteer work, employment, and music.
Research: Education reformer Sir Ken Robinson uses his expertise in business and education to outline the crisis in education in America in his Ted Talk, “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.” He argues that education must be centered on the concept of human flourishing. According to Robinson, this rests upon three main assumptions: (1) that humans are naturally different and diverse, (2) that curiosity drives learning, and (3) that humans are inherently creative. When schools force standardization they effectively limit the ability for children to flourish, and as a result we see children who are stressed, disengaged, and at risk for dropping out altogether.
Practice: At Chrysalis we recognize that learning is personal. Every child learns differently, has different strengths and challenges, and has unique interests. In response, we offer different programs for every child to obtain the balance that’s right for them–a place where they are challenged appropriately, supported when needed, and allowed a place to shine. To use Robinson’s words, we create the conditions in which children thrive by offering a climate of possibility.
Research: Rebecca Givens Rolland laments that schools are racing through K-12 education these days, with policies that encourage children to cover more material in shorter amounts of time, under expectations that are misaligned with natural child development. She argues, “This push, while well-intentioned, is counterproductive. Children need time to sit with a subject, to see mistakes not as humiliations, but as chances to learn.” What’s missing in this “need for speed” is an understanding of the nature of the learning process and proper encouragement to create lifelong learners.
Practice: Every student at Chrysalis is allowed to learn at their own pace and in their own time. Since we don’t adhere to arbitrary standards we can create educational programs that meet each child where they are and allow them to progress when they’re developmentally ready. Our program allows children the extraordinary gift of time to flourish, learn deeply, and develop a love of learning.
Research: Professor Yong Zhao at the University of Oregon has been making headlines recently with his call to reimagine education in the United States. He states that “all human beings are born with the capacity and desire to learn…but their environment can either suppress or encourage that drive.” The school environment must be both stimulating and supportive, and allow kids to pursue individualized goals that build on their strengths rather than identify differences as flaws that must be fixed.
Practice: This humanistic approach is the very basis of a personalized education. We place the student and their individual goals at the center of their program, and commit ourselves to helping them be successful by implementing the right amount of support along the way. This looks different for every child and is crucial to encouraging student success. The right amount of support allows students to recognize their abilities, comfortably accept new challenges, increase their independence, and advocate for their needs.
Research: Elizabeth Perle, editor of HuffPost Teen, responds to parents’ concerns about their children’s use of online social media in her article “5 Myths About Teens and Technology Every Parent Should Ignore.” She compels us to take another look at their online lives and understand them as new platforms for socialization. As parents this world can be intimidating if we are unfamiliar, but she encourages us to empower ourselves to prevent problems before they start by having them teach us about their online community, share how and why they use it, and help understand who they are within it.
Practice: Our students use technology in a variety of ways at Chrysalis. In some classes they are allowed to use it; in others they have to forgo it…just like in real life. We try to teach them when and where it’s appropriate and when and where it’s not. Parents are encouraged to understand their child’s use of social media, to keep an eye on their use, and to instill technology curfews. Check out Karen Fogle’s video on “Keeping Tech in Check” for more detail.
Research: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Unfortunately, bullying is often considered part of the school experience — something that kids are expected to endure and overcome on their own. However, study after study outlines health and academic risks to both the bully and the bullied, including increased indices of depression, anxiety, and risky behaviors.
Practice: We know that physical and emotional safety is primary to well-being, and that without it learning cannot occur. We take great pride in our ability to maintain a positive school culture, not only for the sake of learning; it also makes Chrysalis a great place for everyone to be! When situations inevitably arise, we take the time to talk students through them, to help them see new perspectives, and build empathy and community. If you suspect that your child is experiencing any form of bullying, please let us know so that we may deal with the situation appropriately.