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10 Essential Elements of a Learner Driven Community

By Zach Lahn on November 10, 2021

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Joseph Campbell

I’d add to dear Joseph’s quote: “And you discover who you are by being in relationship with others.” This illustrates a paradox of a Wonder community: highly individualized learning but only because it’s deeply rooted in community with others on the journey.

We recently showed a painting of aspen trees in the Wonder Four and Five studio to share this truth to the learners. Individual aspens share an extensive root system. The individual trees live longer and are stronger because of this shared system. The health of all depends on the health of the root system.

Such is life in a Wonder studio. Each learner is unique. And all need each other to learn and grow.

Another paradox of the Wonder community is that our learners strive to become highly independent only to realize how interdependent they need to be in order to thrive. The ultimate progression is from dependence to independence to interdependence.

The interplay of the individual and the community stirs up an energy that is tangible when you walk into one of our studios. Some people call it the buzz of Wonder.

But it’s not a magical, mysterious force.

It’s an energy intentionally formulated through the strategic layering of 10 essential elements atop the grounding belief that every child is a genius.


The elements are:

1. The Hero’s Journey

2. Growth Mindset

3. Contracts

4. Mixed ages

5. The Socratic Method

6. Trial and Error learning

7. Excellence

8. Freedom and Responsibility

9. Frequent Public Exhibitions

10. The Guide – a unique role for an adult

[Blogs or portion of blogs may be adapted from the blog of our partner school founder and advisor, Laura Sandefer.]