I had my mind blown today.
Like, really blown… and it was after a 90 second interaction with a learner (not a student, we’ll go in to that later). I’ll elaborate…
Today the cohort had a visit to the Pacific School of Inquiry and Innovation (PSII) and I’ll admit to having some pre-conceived notions of what this school would be like.
I figured, oh, it’s a private school, it will be fancy and crazy high tech – we all watched that video about High Tech High right? I guess I thought it would be something like that, and it totally wasn’t. It wasn’t any more technologically advanced or “fancy” than any of the other public schools I’ve been to.
I also figured it might be a little “snooty” as it is using a different teaching/learning model, which has the potential to breed some elitism in to it. It wasn’t. All those that I spoke with were down to earth, almost humble, and VIBRANT.
I’m not ready to make any large judgments on the way PSII is helping kids learn, and it’s mostly because I am still grappling with the idea of inquiry-based learning myself. I am still finding it a hard process to learn, as I am having to “unlearn” a lot of the way I was taught up until this point. Maybe once I have a few inquiry projects under my belt I will be able to properly articulate how I feel about PSII, but I will leave you with the thing that blew my mind today.
A learner (which is what they call their kids instead of students, which I really think is a great way of referring to them) was telling me about how he might have the opportunity to go to the Great Bear Rainforest this summer, which reminded me of the work by UVic’s Dr. Tom Reimchen on Kermode (Spirit) Bears in that area of the world. Dr. Reimchen’s hypothesis after lots and lots of study was that Kermode Bears are white because this genetic quirk conferred an advantage to those bears, which allowed for that variation in coat to be perpetuated throughout many generations. I was telling this to the learner, who IMMEDIATELY came up with the same hypothesis that Dr. Reimchen had, mainly, that if you were a salmon swimming in a river and looking up at the sky for the shape of a bear to avoid, if the bear was white it would match with the bright background of the sky and be camouflaged, and therefore white bears would have better success and catching fish.
I asked the student “Did you already know that information?”
And he said “No.”
Me: “…..” *head explosion noises*
So, I don’t know if that particular learner was already quite biology-minded, but the fact that a grade 10 student could take that leap that fast, is pretty fascinating to me. If that’s the level of learning that PSII is turning out (university level learning), then I am so intrigued and so excited to delve further.