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What if emerging adults didn’t have to wait for college for an educational experience that supported them in taking responsibility for the shape of their learning? An experience where authentic projects, rooted in their local communities, formed the center of a student’s education?

With your help, we can make this dream a reality. Help fund the Insight Colearning Center, a microschool for intrepid teens unlike anything else in Durham.




Tax-deductible donations are processed through our partnership with our fiscal sponsor United Way.

 

 

WHAT IS INSIGHT?

Insight Colearning Center takes the best parts of a four year, liberal arts college experience, and calibrates it to the needs and abilities of teens so that when they complete high school they are prepared to take advantage of a college experience or, if they have a different path to adulthood, they have learned to think critically, with independence and accountability to a community, in a rich and supportive learning environment.

At Insight’s Strawberry Festival booth, Physics Instructor Brock Sayre teaches about the motion of pendulums with a fun adventure game. Photo by Scoville Photography.

 

CONDUCT, FOCUS, & INSIGHT

We accomplish this task using a three phase model education. In their first year they develop the Conduct necessary to participate in and benefit from seminar style courses that ask students to take responsibility for their own learning, be accountable for their own homework, and engage with their peers in a way that traditional K-12 classrooms rarely require. Once students have acquired these skills, they spend the next two years developing their Focus. When students have the ability to engage in seminar style courses and have critical conversations with their peers about their academic subjects, they can begin to do deeper work on those subjects, supplementing the core course materials with independent research that can speak to the learning of their classmates and extend the conversation in the classroom beyond the core materials. Students in this phase of their education are encouraged to draw connections across disciplines, and they increasingly use the course materials as a starting point, rather than a comprehensive guide, of their learning. In their final year, students develop Insight, the capacity to apply interdisciplinary learning to their life and their community. In this year, students reduce their coursework and take on a large-scale independent project with the support and guidance of caregivers, faculty, and members of their community. This project might be a larger research project resulting in a report; a work of creative writing or an art-piece accompanied by an interpretive statement; a community initiative like service work, beautification, or community garden; or much more.

 

WHAT DO PARENTS SAY ABOUT INSIGHT?

Last year, my 15 year old daughter participated in three Insight courses. These courses were not only academically rich; they were life-changing. The curriculum allowed the students to explore big intellectual questions and to delve into them deeply. The seminar-based pedagogy provided opportunities for them to extend their learning through both facilitated discussion and informal interactions related to topics that emerged in each session. It warmed my heart to see my teen dive enthusiastically into the reading and writing assignments each week and to come out of class “on fire” with new nuggets of information and insight after every class. The teachers’ intentional cultivation of a learning community and their careful attention to each students’ strengths and growing edges allowed my daughter to feel safe and secure in taking on some very complex projects that she will build on throughout the rest of her high school education.

 

SEMINARS, ACADEMIC ADVISING, STUDY HALL, & PARENT EDUCATION

Throughout a student’s four years at Insight, they are supported in their learning through seminar-style courses taught by experts in the subject matter. The courses themselves are multi-level, so that students who are still perfecting Conduct learn next to students who are developing their Focus, as well as students who are putting their Insight into practice with independent projects. All students use the same material as a centerpiece for their coursework, but each students brings something unique to the table.

In addition to seminar-style courses, students meet with a faculty advisor every other week for half an hour. In these meetings, faculty develop a student’s capacity to set goals and monitor their progress on them, give them feedback about how the content of their courses can relate to their own individual interests, and help students to face their own unique challenges and cultivate their own unique strengths.

Outside of contact with the faculty, students are provided with a shared social study hall where they can work together on homework, but where they are also encourages to begin socializing around their learning, building or extending their friendships to include intellectual conversations that connect to students’ current interests and hobbies.

Finally, caregivers are supported in this endeavor through their participation in three workshops per semester, where they will receive guidance from faculty and staff on a range of topics from the administrative hurdles of establishing and keeping records for their student, to troubleshooting the common challenges that can arise when a student is brought into a more collegiate learning environment from a less structured homeschool or a more structured, traditional K-12 environment.