Jess Pegram

Jess Pegram

Johannesburg, South Africa

I am 17 and a student at THINK Global School - the world's first travelling high school. Since joining TGS, I have realised the importance of education that isn't traditional - I believe that passion-driven, experience-based learning is the future of education.

About me

I am 17 and a student at THINK Global School - the world's first travelling high school. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa for the first 16 years of my life. For the majority of my education, I attended a very traditional school. This is what encouraged me to make a change and find the type of schooling that suits me the most - project-based, experiential, and passion-driven. Since starting my education at TGS, I have gained an increased devotion to education that will change the world.

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

HundrED is a community that works towards sharing and furthering innovations in education - a cause I am passionate about. I believe that innovative education is going to change the world for the better, and without communities such as this one, it is impossible to do so. Being able to play a part in this shift to better education is something I am excited to experience.

How can education support students to flourish?

Student flourishment relies on intrinsic motivation. For someone to be passionate about learning, a desire that comes from nothing more than wanting to be educated is needed. Unfortunately, most current education systems are based on extrinsic factors - doing well on tests, getting the best marks at the end of the year and beating other students in arbitrarily assigned subjects. This method of education hinders students, rather than helping them. 

Educators can help foster intrinsic motivation through curriculums that are designed to do just that. By placing attention on students’ personal growth and helping them focus on the subjects they are passionate about, students can discover the enthusiasm for learning that all humans have.

What role does innovation play in education change?

Innovation is defined by the Merriam-Webster as “the introduction of something new” or “a new idea, method, or device”. If we still educated people the same way we did 1000 years ago, our society would have advanced in a very different - and arguably worse - way. That is why innovation is necessary for education - without change, we do not develop. Innovation creates better solutions to problems that we have and opens students’ minds to better ways of thinking and approaching situations.

Three HundrED innovations you love. (and Why?)

THINK Global School - This is an obvious one. As a student of this school, I have the opportunity to experience its innovation up close. It uses travelling as a method for experiential learning and helping students not only understand more about the world but also more about themselves and what they’re passionate about. The Changemaker curriculum is based around exactly what I spoke about above - passion-driven education focusing on student interest and holistic growth, making it an ideal space for fostering lifelong learning.

Big Picture Learning - I love this method of teaching because of its personalisation and how it approaches students. Rather than focusing on giving students as much information as possible so that they can pass exams, each teacher is given a group of students that they develop personal relationships with and advise for four years. This personalised process means that students are able to explore their passions with guidance from an educator that is dedicated to doing just that.

HEI Schools - This programme is dedicated to implementing high-quality, affordable, early-childhood education all over the world. The first years of education are some of the most important, and I find HEI's mission to provide valuable education for as many people as possible an important effort. Programmes such as HEI Schools are an important part of the process towards making education a tool for lifelong learning.

Three innovations you would love for HundrED to know about. (and Why?)

Quest University - Quest is one of the few schools that are truly innovating in tertiary education. Every student graduates with one degree - a bachelor of arts and sciences. The school year is not divided by semester-long courses, but rather into 3.5-week programmes that each delve deep into one class or subject, encouraging true immersion in each subject. There are mandatory subjects for the first two years, and the last two are an opportunity for each student to design their own programme led by a self-made driving question. Their programme allows in-depth study of multiple disciplines, while still allowing students to have freedom in their education. 

Minerva - Minerva is a university with campuses in 7 different countries, with a base in San Francisco. Each student spends one semester living on each of these campuses. Minerva not only encourages global citizenship and cultural immersion, but also integrated learning. With a four-year undergraduate degree, the first year at Minerva focuses on four cornerstone courses that give students skills in “thinking critically, thinking creatively, communicating effectively, and interacting effectively”. The second year is an opportunity for students to build a foundation in their chosen major/s, with choices of Arts and Humanities, Computational Sciences, Business, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The third year gives students more room to delve deeply into one aspect of their major that they are interested in, and their fourth is a self-directed yearlong research project in their subject. This method of learning gives students non-superficial foundations in a wide variety of subjects and expertise in the field they are interested in.

TIDE Academy - TIDE is a school that I was lucky enough to work with when in Costa Rica with TGS. What I love about their programme is their flexibility and dedication to student enrichment. They have a four day school week (Monday-Thursday), with Fridays as a day where students either have an early weekend or participate in surf lessons. This allows students to immerse themselves in something that is popular and important in this part of Costa Rica, as well as helping them learn a valuable and fun skill.