SEEQS: the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability
At SEEQS, they have to process essential questions and really work towards solutions that make a difference. They are learning to be proactive and lifelong learners.
FACTS & FIGURES
Ages of learners served
Hours dedicated to Essential Questions of Sustainability (EQS) each day
Multi-age classes to support the continuum of learning
MANY EDUCATORS COME TO A CROSSROADS IN THEIR CAREERS when their passion for serving young learners is competing against the limitations, barriers, and frustrations stemming from the system they are working in. This often leads to a career change. But, for people like Buffy Cushman-Patz, they, instead, seek a transformational path within their current work.
Buffy saw how the traditional system was not only hindering her ability as an educator but, more importantly, was negatively impacting the growth and development of her learners. She wanted to break down the silos of “school” and community. She wanted to create a culture of learning that saw everyone—child and adult—as an educator and a learner at the same time. She identified her wants, and then she brought them to life with SEEQS: the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability, a learner-centered environment in Honolulu, Hawai’i that opened in 2013.
If you request a tour of this dynamic learning environment, your tour will be led by young learners rather than adults. You’ll hear them describe SEEQS in a beautifully simple way, “Our former school was all about sitting and silence. SEEQS is loud, fun, and interesting.” As the learners describe more about their experience at SEEQS, it’ll become evident that Buffy drew early inspiration from open-walled learning environments like those in the Big Picture Learning network, which helped guide the design of personalized, relevant, and contextualized learning opportunities.
As one of many examples, a learner might describe to you how her burgeoning passion for sustainability led to the production of a small solar panel and, unexpectedly, wide-ranging community interest. Taking advantage of her well-developed learner agency, this young learner was able to go from idea to product without giving up in the face of uncertainty, setbacks, and failures. With each new challenge, she was able to access the socially embedded support system within her learning community—including the community at-large—to collect feedback on the problems she was facing while at the same time inspiring others around her to explore other sustainable energy projects. She became a mentor while playing the role of mentee—a learner and an educator at the same time.
SEEQS was created from a passion and drive to transform education for young learners. As it continues to evolve, there will be a plethora of lessons to be learned and shared along the way. We can’t wait to see what’s to come.
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