“The problem with conformity in education is that people are not standardized to begin with.” -Sir Kenneth Robinson
One of the questions we are regularly asked these days is “How did you arrive at the Changemaker Curriculum?” This question is understandable given how ingrained standardized curricula continue to be at schools around the world. With the Changemaker Curriculum, we’ve taken a page out of Sir Ken Robinson’s playbook and done away with educational conformity, replacing it with what we believe to be the most innovative and relevant approach to learning that exists today.
With that in mind, here’s a little background on why a shift to a curriculum based on the leading educational philosophies made sense for us.
THINK Global School launched in 2010 with fifteen students. In the years following, our student body steadily increased to what we believed the ideal capacity: somewhere between 45-50 students. We decided on this capacity given the complex logistical decisions attached to our traveling model and the belief that fifty students represented the maximum amount we could effectively and safely educate through firsthand experiences in the world.
THINK Global School students in Kyoto (2014)
As our program matured, we began to analyze our successes and setbacks, and, in turn, found ourselves doing a fair amount of soul searching as a result. By adhering to a traditional standards-based and teacher-led curriculum, were we depriving our students of the innovative education we had originally envisioned? Through this process, a decision was made to veer away from the learning outcomes associated with the IB in favor of a set of student-centered outcomes that take full advantage of our host countries’ communities, cultures, and locales.
Moving forward we would champion 21st-century skills such as visual literacy, global awareness, critical thinking, and effective communication as our learning outcomes. After three years of research and development (2015-2017), the culmination of these efforts, the Changemaker Curriculum, which blends place- and project-based learning with social-emotional learning processes, was finalized and ready to launch.
Conservation studies in Botswana (CM2 – 2018)
In the summer of 2017, we officially implemented the Changemaker Curriculum with the launch of Changemaker Cohort 1 (CM1). Comprised of thirty students from all across the world, these students traveled alongside our final class of IB students, who graduated in the spring of 2018. The launch of the Changemaker Curriculum also coincided with the introduction of a set travel calendar, consisting of 12 countries, for the first time.
With the IB concluded at THINK Global School, we recruited for and launched a second cohort of thirty students in the summer of 2018. Like those students enrolled in Changemaker Cohort 1, Changemaker Cohort 2 (CM2) are gaining an education by focusing on 21st-century learning outcomes and self-directed learning. Rather than engaging in teacher-led rote learning, they are actively exploring projects of their own choosing in each country they visit while working with our educators to craft innovative solutions to an array of teacher-led modules.
Two years in, it’s clear that the decision to implement a self-designed curriculum focused on place-, project-based, and social-emotional learning was the correct one. Our students are more engaged with their coursework than ever, actively enjoying the locations they find themselves in, and receiving the personal attention they need from our educators, advisors, and mentors. It took us years to find our pedagogical footing, but shifting to the Changemaker Curriculum was the wisest decision we have made as a school.
Students participate in team-building activities (CM1 – 2017)
Interested in learning more about the particulars of the Changemaker Curriculum? You can do so here.