Today in our Tech class we had a field trip!!! (I think that the only people who get as excited about field trips as elementary school students are elementary school teachers – or soon-to-be elementary school teachers in our case haha)
We covered the personal learning networks, open pedagogy, learning design, and assessment educational competencies and tech tools and collaboration technological competencies.
We went to The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry in downtown Victoria to take a tour from the founder and principal of the inquiry-based school, Jeff Hopkins. PSII is made up of roughly 95 students from grades 9-12, and 7 adult workers (including teachers, the principal, support staff, etc.) We were all so fascinated as Jeff walked us through how the school operates and how the students’ learning is self-directed and completely fueled by inquiry. Students and staff work collaboratively through several online platforms, such as Trello (which we are using for our inquiry projects in our Tech class) to document their learning as they delve into something that they want to learn about. That is how and what students learn – through pursuing topics that they want to learn more about, not the topics that their teacher wants them to learn about, the administration, or even their parents. That is perhaps the most mind-boggling and most beautiful part of what PSII is trying to do with their learners and with inquiry-based learning in general. Even as we discussed how successful this method has proven to be, and how much more of an enriching learning experience this results in for the students – my mind was screaming “No! This isn’t school! This isn’t education! This isn’t learning!” Because even though I could see that this was clearly superior (my inner monologue who went through the traditional public school system) was resisting and seeking structure. But it was undeniable that the type of learning that is occurring at PSII is the kind of learning the education system is and should be working towards, and is the kind of learning that we should be striving to achieve in our individual classrooms.
As we left PSII, I was left with so many questions bouncing around in my head, such as if this kind of learning and type of school could possibly work while maintaining a French Immersion program, and how inquiry-based learning could be integrated into Elementary school classrooms.
This visit was undoubtedly thought-provoking and inspirational, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see deep-end inquiry-based learning firsthand as I go through my next years of education learning about how inquiry can play a role in my own classroom.