Pacific Institute of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII).

Today, February 2, 2019, our cohort went on a tour at PSII (pronounced “sigh”). Here are my takeaways, both positive and negative, from this visit.

  • Students have the freedom to study what they like, so they are engaged in their learning through the integration of their personal interests. I like this method as students become self-motivated to learn, and learning deeply. This is like Jeff’s TedTalk concept about knowing versus knowing about.
  • Students use resources in their community to further their learning, such as the public library and YMCA. I am envious of these opportunities as, when I graduated high school, I had no idea how to use local gyms or other communities resources.
  • The students are free to leave campus to use these resources. It made me think of the trust the staff has in the students to actually go to the library for an hour to read and not head to a movie or to shop at the mall. Maybe I have trust issues…
  • They assess the learning…backwards! The teachers look at the work the student has done and match it to the curricular competencies, instead of planning for learning based on the curriculum.

I found the location to have a very office-type atmosphere, not as warm as I would want, myself. However, I understand they must be restricted in their options for campuses due to their desire to be downtown and rent a location that fits within their budget.

This screen sits by the main entrance and lists the courses that the students can choose to attend for the day. They can also choose to work independently on their inquiry projects. Students are required to be in attendance from 9:30 – 3:30, but that can include off-campus activities that pertain to their educational journey, such as horseback riding or going to the museum. The students are selected to attend PSII on a first come, first served basis, with tuition of $7000/year being the only barrier for the families. Some students may get scholarships to attend.

Overall, I found this school to really challenge my thinking about how education is structured and how it can be improved to benefit students. It is hard to imagine this set-up in a public school setting with the more difficult ratios of staff to students. I am also wondering how this model could be implemented at an elementary level, as younger students are not able to wander off campus alone and struggle with self-regulating. I hope to explore this question more!

Here is the TedTalk that PSII’s founder did in 2014.


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