Jamie Steckart, Head of School
THINK Global School
What is THINK Global School?
Traditional schooling is an isolating affair. Students are put together with very little exposure to the diverse communities in which they live and are graded and judged not by their creativity but on how well they can recall very specific content.
The lack of agency and autonomy for both teachers and students has led to a real sense of disengagement within both groups. Rarely do students engage in learning with “real” people on “real” problems where the answer comes in many forms. We need to redesign experiences in our educational programs to promote creativity, collaboration, and communication to prepare our students for the needs of the future.
THINK Global School believes that project and place-based learning is a medium for deep learning and that increasing student autonomy provides a greater sense of connection and purpose for students. Through travel, students experience real world issues and engage with the communities that they live in each term. By gaining an authentic global education, students develop the skills, knowledge, and experiences necessary to become the changemakers of the future.
Each school year, THINK Global School students live and learn in four countries, and each eight-week term is a chance to engage in community-focused projects that develop not just skills and knowledge, but a deep understanding of the country and culture they are immersed in. The community literally becomes their classroom and its denizens their teachers.
The cornerstone of project-based learning at THINK Global School is the Teacher Designed Modules (TDM). Rooted in a specific country’s place, students choose one intensive seven-week project. Each TDM is a multi-disciplinary project that is woven into the community. At the conclusion of each TDM, there is an additional week of project work in preparation for a public performance of learning. Members of the community, including local experts who shared their findings with students on the projects, are invited to this event and it is an ideal time for parents and family to visit the school as we celebrate student learning.
Multidisciplinary projects weave traditional subjects into real-world learning. Expert members of the community engage with our students in authentic ways and add invaluable meaning to their experience. With these connections the school aims to build long-term relationships and ongoing projects within the communities they visit by returning annually. In this way, projects are more sustainable and the effects can be longer lasting. Currently, the school is wrapping up the first year of a project with African Conservation Experience in Botswana by researching animal density and ecological issues in the Greater Okavango Delta.
Outside of the projects, students learn about local cultures and develop an
understanding of communities which differ from their own. There are opportunities to learn languages, eat and cook different foods, and read novels by local authors in the very setting they were written in and/or about. THINK Global School believes that by combining academic study with cultural immersion in a local community, students gain a connection to the world that will drive them to improve it.
There is only so much that can be learned within the four walls of a classroom, where teachers are largely reliant on lectures, textbooks, and internet materials. THINK Global School believes that engaging in place-based learning and allowing students to engage directly with a wide range of cultures, peoples, and artefacts is the key to a global education.Impact
Place-based learning allows students to use all five senses in their learning and visits to sombre sites like Srebrenica in Bosnia allows them to converse directly with those affected by tragedy, and as THINK Global Schools has found, these encounters can shape our students lives in a significant way, often motivating them to create meaningful change in the affected places.Scalability
While the travel aspect may be problematic for many schools and especially the younger grades, the innovation technique can be used at all levels, scale and scope are age dependant. The approach is being used, to various degrees, by a range of schools worldwide.