Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry Visit

The High School Visit to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry was a very eye-opening visit. I think that the system that is used is very effective for a niche group of students. I found that typically the students drawn to the school were those with social or academic anxiety problems. I think they are drawn to this system because it is less traditionally academically structured and a smaller community. While there, I heard several students mention that high school was a scary place. The teachers at this school have seamlessly found a way to teach inquiry based. Teachers are there to assist students in learning of their own choosing. They direct students to resources that would help and hold classes that essential for the projects. I found the accelerated program very interesting in this process. I think it’s a perfect way to integrate higher level education in a meaningful way because students are only taking the courses that are beneficial to them. Likewise, because of the students flexible schedules these one-off university courses are less overwhelming and dense. The accelerated program also changes the student’s whole ideology around university in a positive way. It is no longer a place to go to find what you want to do, it is utilized for key aspects to help them achieve what they already know they want to do. Students that come from this school have a clear idea of what drives them and what resources they will need to further that drive. For example, one student had 1 year of computer courses and then started his computer business. For him, he was only missing a few concepts that these courses offered. Once he got what he needed he could branch off on his own.  

            Although this teaching method works very well and should be an option, this system could not be the only option for schooling. It would not be possible to have this system on a large scale. The cross-over of information from students work that the teachers would have to handle and inform on would be overwhelming. Another downfall of this school was that there are no team sports. Students cannot even go play for other schools because the school is registered as a sports school. Only some students able to play only if eligible. This limits student’s opportunities in sporting avenues. That said, the benefits to this system cannot be understated. Students develop skills based off projects they are personally invested in. The passion and drive is in every bit of work they do because they choose to do it. It seemed that this system worked because every student could find something to be interested and these inquiry questions lead them to their projects. One pivotal moment for me in realizing how well this worked was when 2 students were talking and explained that a few days earlier they had just decided to learn creative writing. I believe if you give students the time to explore and ask questions, as this system does, key concepts that are forced in traditional schools are chosen to be learned on their own time. I also think that when topics are freely chosen instead of forced more learning occurs. I am very grateful for the opportunity to go tour this school and talk first hand to the students to see how the system works.I think this type of independent school should be an option for every student to choose because it is so effective for those that do not do well in our traditional schools.

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons

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