It is a place full of possibilities where you are free to create an education for your child that is celebrated and you are surrounded by other families co-creating educational experiences that are fully engaging and lighting up the children. Workspace is magical!
How do you measure the impact your learning environment is having on the children and families you serve? How do you know if the environment’s culture is recognizing each individual child as unique and wondrous? One possible way of knowing might be the existence of parents willing to make 2.5 hour round-trip journeys every day of the week just so their children can learn within your community.
That’s exactly the proof leaders at Workspace Education in Bethel, Connecticut have at their disposal. With a family-centric framework, Workspace has integrated a cornucopia of education pedagogies into their work. With Workspace Education’s mix and match model, they allow the flexibility for the learner and family to choose what best fits their interests and needs.
Let’s see how a single learner, Michael, can make use of everything available. At the same time, remember, this is but one unique learning path.
After Michael and his family go through an extended interview process upon his entry into Workspace—showcasing the rich, socially-embedded environment he will be learning in—his interests, passions, and needs are met on day one. Coming from a traditional setting, he’d like to dip his toes into everything that is available here before heading to the deep-end. In response to this unique need, Michael begins with more traditional, subject-based learning, while Workspace educators cultivate his learner agency.
He finds himself growing more and more interested in the STEM field, and he keeps hearing rumblings about CRISPR technology—a unique resource available in Workspace’s 30,000 square foot barn that allows geneticists to “alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.” One week, a geneticist is invited to speak to Workspace learners, and Michael is awestruck.
Once the talk is over, he heads straight to his advisor and inquires about how he can join other learners working with CRISPR. The next week, he is fully embedded in a project-based learning group that exposes them to many fields from medicine, cloning, cancer research, food production and using gene technology to solve problems, such as how to detect landmines.
Michael can then supplement his learning through a continued connection with the visiting geneticist, focused STEM courses, and for fun, an open-walled project with a local business designing their marketing booth for the CAMX trade/recycling show in Houston.
Within this single learner-centered environment, young learners have access to traditional, subject-based learning; project-based learning; and family learning where parents and children co-create projects that matter to all of them. They even have a cohort of learners participating in Acton Academy’s model of learning—a “Learner Driven Community” where learners use technology to create personalized learning paths.
When any learning environment provides this type of learning freedom, the traditional barriers of providing personalized, relevant, and contextualized learning come crashing down. At Workspace, a learner can engage with any topic of interest and explore it in the way that makes the most sense to them because every style of learning is available.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg of what Workspace hopes to become. As their founder, Cath Fraise described it, “This is a place where we could incubate new models of learning that don’t even exist yet.” All to do one thing: serve the individual needs of every learner who walks through their doors.