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Why Wonder?

By Zach Lahn on October 23, 2017

What does great look like when it comes to education? This question was the catalyst behind the creation of Wonder and it is one that we, and many other parents, think about often.

To us, this is not a question of test scores or grades but rather a more fundamental question about how prepared our children will be to live successful and fulfilling lives while facing the major changes happening in our world today.

It is one thing to understand that the current education system has fallen behind. It is another to understand what learning should look like today.

Think about that with a study recently authored by McKenzie and Co. in mind. They predict that in the next 20 years, 45% of all jobs in the US marketplace could be automated. These are not just manufacturing jobs, these are jobs that most would traditionally see as “safe” – doctors, lawyers, and designers among many others.

If this is the future that young people today will be entering, what should they be learning in school to prepare them for success?

Understanding the role that technology plays both as a knowledge resource as well as a major disruptor of the job market, changes the question we must ask about learning.

The question is no longer centered on what our children need to learn or memorize but rather – what is the purpose of their learning, what does school equip our children to do with what they learn, and how do they learn best?

We believe the purpose of learning is to help children discover their individual strengths and build them into skills that will prepare them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

This means that learning must be very individualized and very relevant.

I read once that “love is a condition of knowledge” meaning that, if there is not a reason for or deep interest in learning, or a practical application in your life, chances are it is not going to stick.

We believe that learning for the sake of learning, that is, learning without relevance or learning without a focus on discovering and building a child’s innate abilities – will not equip our them for success.

What Will?

Learning to Do. By challenging young people to collaborate with others to build, invent, design, or create something new that solves a problem directly related to their area(s) of strength and interest, gives students the relevance needed to build and retain knowledge. Allowing them to fail and rebuild teaches them to learn from their mistakes and to be persistent.

Learning to Adapt. By having young people work on many of these projects, each with a unique focus, while combining areas such as math, writing, art, geometry, physics, computer science, and communication, each year, they are learning how to adapt to new problems and situations that require new knowledge and skills. Through this, children also learn how to excel in the messiness of creation.

Learning to Be. By helping young people discover their passions and turn their abilities into skills others need, we help learners understand their purpose and the part they can play in the world. Learning to be is learning who you are and who you want to become, what you believe, and how you hope to change the world.

This is why we created Wonder, to engage children through curiosity while challenging them to learn relevant information that they can put to use to solve real problems. This process of discovery helps them identify and build their unique abilities and prepares them to lead successful and fulfilling lives while changing the world.

At Wonder, learners starting at elementary age will spend each morning focused on mastering core skills in a self-directed and goal driven environment. Each afternoon will be spent working on complex projects that challenge them to think critically and be creative while working in teams to solve pressing issues facing the world today.

At the end of each 4-6-week project, learners will present their work publicly to the school community helping them to develop the soft skills necessary to set them apart in an increasingly digital age.

Learn to Do – Learn to Be – Learn to Adapt