Highlands Micro School
Highlands Micro School Parent
Before our first year at Micro, I really couldn’t imagine how all these things that looked great on paper could work in real life. Now I can’t imagine why we do school any other way.
FACTS & FIGURES
Evidence-based Learning environment
Inquiry and Adventure Curriculum
ANNE WINTEMUTE, FOUNDER OF HIGHLANDS MICRO SCHOOL, wants to find out what our children are truly capable of. As she explored the education landscape for her three children, she felt uneasy about the similarities she found between hospital-centered maternity care (her previous work) and school-centered K-12 education—the system was the focus, rather than an individual’s unique needs. Therefore, she took it upon herself to dig in and create something from scratch that matched what researchers already knew to be true.
In 2016, Anne brought her research to life by opening the doors at Highlands. This low tech, mixed-age, no homework, no grades learner-centered environment was ready to show off just how wondrous and capable all of our learners are. Standard curriculums, siloed subjects, and age-based comparisons were never going to show up at Highlands. Instead, a competency-based culture of collaboration, community, and curiosity were going to drive the learning for each individual child.
The leaders at Highlands Micro School never asked if kids as young as four and five could develop a sense of learner agency. They knew it to be true based on the scientific evidence they had gathered, and they set out to prove the findings. Through personalized, relevant, and contextualized learning, they have rewritten the story on what learners are capable of. There is no greater example than the young girl who proclaimed, “Dandelions are the cure for cancer!”
Rather than thinking, “that’s nice, honey,” her scientifically-minded mother and educators challenged her to prove it. And, off she went exploring scientific literature, utilizing her strengths as a writer, and creating a presentation for her community to assess her findings. Oh, by the way, this learner was five years old! And, she’s one of many stories coming out of this socially embedded environment where every learner supports one another as they pursue their annual passion projects.
With an assessment framework that all but eliminates the ability to compare, learners aren’t looking to compete with one another. They want to see everyone succeed and grow. Each learner is on a path to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that support their present and future yearnings, which are unimpeded by the individual interests of their peers.
As Highlands Micro School continues pushing the needle beyond what we thought was possible in education, they hope to expand their work to the secondary level and remove all barriers to entry—more specifically, eliminating tuition—for the children in their Denver community.
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