The Future of Learning Now

An Excerpt from Pasadena’s Macaroni Kid Publication (full article here)

What is the Kuriosity Lab?

For more than 15 years, I had worked with at-risk youth as a teacher, curriculum developer and founder/director of an alternative school. Seven years ago, one of my former students offered to fund a learning experiment that I was daydreaming about. He, like so many of his peers, was talented and defiant, so traditional school settings were stifling and often irrelevant to him. So, we created a nonprofit, the Kuriosity Lab, to examine this idea: can young people discover and develop their authentic talents through a different kind of education? In other words, what would a curriculum look like if any student chose to pursue the answers to three questions: “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” and “How do I get there?” That’s what we were curious about.

How did you go about doing that?

We rented a 2,500 square-foot warehouse with 17’ high ceilings. We built a stimulating environment filled with gadgets and equipment relating to science, music, art, nature, theater, movement, and design along with a shop to build things. We invited young people in starting at four years of age through college. We encouraged them to roam the Lab. We pulled out the appropriate material and tools at the different work/play stations (“Patterns,” Connections,”“Light” “Learning How You Learn.” We built a 20’ wide, nearly 17’ high dome with big 8’X8’doors for all kinds of experiments. Oh, yeah, we even had a ballroom of sorts too. It was the home to dozens of different size balls including one that was nine feet high. Kids loved it! A reporter called it “The Willie Wonka Learning Factory.” And a parent could observe what attracted their child’s attention and for how long. It was quite revealing. Once you understand where a student’s interests are, it’s easy to motivate.

We added another twist. Instead of teaching the standard skills traditionally, we taught writing through playing ball; math by using moveable carts we made…