Insight Colearning Center is a four year high school that prepares traditionally under-served teens to make a difference in a rapidly changing and uncertain world by providing an exemplary high school experience that combines rigorous, college-style coursework, authentic problem-based learning, one-on-one advising, and participation in a dynamic and diverse learning community.
Insight Colearning Center is committed to the recruitment and education of a diverse community of teen students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. These students will, over the course of several years, be prepared to do rigorous, evidence-based work with others to make a difference in a rapidly changing and uncertain world.
We identify authentic problems in the community to inspire and motivate students. We then train students to leverage the human and material resources of the affected communities to address these authentic problems through rigorous, college-ready research geared towards collaborative problem solving. Students then gain experience using this research to create practical products that are usable in the scholarly and professional worlds of adults that they are being prepared to join.
Insight students will be exceptionally prepared for college environments, having developed the time management, accountability, research, and writing skills normally expected of a college sophomore. Insight students will also be prepared for professional work in a number of fields through their engagement with working experts and their practice applying learning and research to real world problems.
Socially, Insight students will be poised to make a healthy transition into lifelong friendships grounded equally in the personal and the professional, as they gain experience socializing with the material of their intellectual curiosity in a space crafted and supervised by trained adults to allow them to experiment applying the things that they are learning to their daily life. Insight students will also gain practice bringing their unique selves into a variety of communities, shaping those communities and allowing themselves to be shaped by them through their ethical, attentive participation.
The result of an Insight education will be students who have the intellectual resources, practice, and confidence to make a meaningful difference in the world through academic or professional work.
Insight's Core Values
Students need healthy communities nurtured by well-trained adults where they can practice developing friendships that are embedded in their intellectual interests, and where they can experiment applying the things that they are learning to their daily life. Teen students practice bringing their unique selves into a variety of communities at school, shaping those communities and allowing themselves to be shaped by them through their ethical, attentive participation. Because teens are formed by the communities in which they come of age, those communities should be composed of students, faculty, and staff from a variety of socioeconomic, racial, and cultural backgrounds, as well as from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so that students learn to live and work with the people who make up their world.
Students are inspired and motivated by authentic problems in their communities, and should be trained to leverage the human and material resources of their communities to address authentic problems through rigorous, college-ready research geared towards collaborative problem solving. Students should gain experience using their academic skills to create practical products that are useable in the scholarly and professional worlds of adults that they are being prepared to join. When they address real problems in this way, students should leave high school very well prepared for college or entry-level professional work in a variety of fields.
Knowledge building and work in the real world is always done in collaboration with others. A good education is one in which students learn the many ways in which their ideas, products, and labor rely upon and build upon the work of others. Students should gain deep experience in the many forms of collaboration that underly all substantive human endeavors, and they should be supported in learning to work together responsibly and effectively.
Information cannot be learned, remembered, and applied to new situations unless it is embedded in a substantial, authentic context. That context can only be provided by coursework that is both deep and rigorous, rather than broad and shallow. When a student learns the theories, methods, and content of a discipline with depth and rigor, even when that depth and rigor pushes them to the limits of what would seem possible for a novice, they will be able to apply what they have learned to new situations, broadening their learning organically through further study.
Teens cannot be “protected” from adulthood. As teens grow up they will consume media and have conversations with peers that deal with difficult issues, like violence, war, sexism, racism, abuse; and that deal with complicated issues like love, sex, politics, and drug use. When adults pretend that these conversations will not happen or attempt to forbid them, they will not be successful in shielding teens from these topics of conversations, and if they are successful, this will not be good for teens’ development. Rather than pretending that these conversations don’t happen, adults who nurture teen maturation should set developmentally and ethically appropriate standards for conversation, and engage these topics earnestly where and how it is appropriate for them to do so. This models healthy behavior for teens, and builds relationships of respect and trust that will allow teens to use adults as a resource to think through these issues effectively.
The core functions of a school rely on expert teachers who are professionals in their fields. Teachers are supported in their work by administrators who understand the science of education both theoretically and through extensive classroom experience, and who have extensive experience in the legal, procedural, fiscal, and managerial skills required of leaders. A school’s financial priority must be, first and foremost, the generous compensation of these professionals. The facilities, technologies, and resources to craft a top-notch educational experience already exist in the communities all around us, and are freely or cheaply accessible; but the expertise required to maintain a school is rare. Teachers and administrators should be compensated in such a way that they are financially secure, able to feel good about the sacrifices of time and energy that are required by their vocation.
The evaluation of teachers both by themselves and their supervisors must take place in an environment in which teachers are confident that the purpose of their assessments is to help them improve their skills as a teacher. Teachers must be given constructive feedback that is geared to their continued development, both as experts in their fields, and as classroom teachers. Effective and ongoing professional development among a community of peers should be the direct result of substative assessments of teaching by students, teachers, and administrators.
Education and pedagogy can be usefully subjected to qualitative and quantitative scientific investigation. While there is good research onto the question of how people learn, the field is complex and filled with pseudoscientific theories and methods, and the excellent findings that have been made from good science are not conclusive nor are they comprehensive. Individual educational programs must therefore subject their methods and assumptions to study using a variety of methods: psychological, social scientific, and philosophical. When research into one’s educational program provides compelling evidence that runs contrary to one’s hypothesis, the program must be adapted to account for these findings.
As a nonprofit microschool, we will make our findings and methods available to the public. In a larger sense, all research into effective methods of education should be made available to and should be used by the public. Education is a public a good, and when education is improved, our communities are bettered. Therefore, knowledge of educational theories and methods should never be subject to private ownership.
As the purpose of education is to form people into effective learners that understand their dependence on others and that can reliably seek out the truth, the result of a worthwhile education should be visible in the impact that those learners make on their communities. A worthwhile education will result in people who are committed to the bettering of their communities, and who have acquired theories, methods, and knowledge that can be used to do so.