Thriving in a disruptive world means being equipped with an arsenal of skills to help you navigate uncharted waters. Many traditional schools are guilty of rote-learning, which does little to promote students’ critical thinking abilities, and fails to mould agile, global citizens prepared for the future of work.
But THINK Global School (TGS) aims to change that. This travelling high school has broken free from the shackles of traditional learning by designing a unique curriculum that lets students learn both in and outside of the classroom. Students at TGS have the chance to live and learn in 12 countries over the course of 3 years: Botswana, India, Japan, Spain, China, Oman, Panama, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Australia, Chile and Italy.
This produces students who are not only at ease with people of different backgrounds and cultures, but also promotes graduates who are drivers of their destiny.
A travelling high school that builds resilient learners
While the concept of a travelling school may seem unorthodox, students will find that TGS equips them with practical skills that will serve them well in the future. For instance, TGS’ approach to learning encourages students to develop autonomy and independence by guiding their own learning.
In each one of the countries, students engage in an interdisciplinary, project-based learning module which helps them answer key questions about the world while immersing them in multiple academic subjects. These eight-week modules are led by experienced faculty, but are flexible enough for students to learn in ways that suit them best.
Senior year student Paula Marquina Gurrea, who joined the school in July 2017, said: “I had heard of project-based learning, but had never seen it implemented. So, I was both excited and nervous about guiding my own learning.”
Despite knowing that she would have to step out of her comfort zone to adapt to the school’s learning style, Gurrea, who hails from Querétaro, México, said TGS’ educators were always there to mentor and guide students towards finding solutions to questions. Over time, self-learning became second nature to her.
“It was definitely challenging at first, but I think it’s key to get comfortable with being constantly uncomfortable and learning how to deal with failure,” said the 18-year-old.
Learning from hands-on experiences
One of Gurrea’s most memorable moments was during her first personal project in India. While it wasn’t her “best project”, Gurrea attested that it taught her plenty. Her project on sarees – a traditional female garment worn by women in countries such as India and Pakistan – came with many bumps prior to its culmination of an end-of-term showcase and presentation.
“The idea was for me to research and interview women around the city about why they continued to wear traditional clothing, what it means to them, and so on,” she said. However, on the day of her presentation, nothing went as planned.
“I did not have the sarees I needed, nor the help I had asked from the locals, who didn’t turn up. I was frustrated and in tears before going up on stage, but thanks to a friend, though, I managed to round up a few women who were wandering around the streets to help,” she recalled.
On presentation day, Gurrea abandoned her carefully crafted three-page speech. “Feeling empowered, I put my speech down and explained everything I had learned to the audience. I laughed at my experience and explained how a simple piece of clothing can be so underappreciated, despite teaching us about a person, a country, or the country’s history as well as ourselves,” she said.
While project-based learnings don’t always go as planned, acting as potential stressors for students, Gurrea acknowledged that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
The Changemaker Curriculum
Students at TGS participate in the Changemaker Curriculum, which focuses on helping students master skills and concepts, rather than just regurgitating facts. This enables them to understand what they’ve learnt, analyse and apply that knowledge, in addition to creating new ideas and teaching others as a result of this learning style, regardless of the subject.
Through the Changemaker Curriculum, some important life lessons were ingrained in Gurrea, including learning to be comfortable in moments of discomfort and instability, as they serve as a catalyst for growth; being able to connect with others who think differently to her; and how to apply problem-solving skills to daily life.
As a student at TGS, Gurrea said it was impossible not to learn from the exposure to various perspectives of students who come from all corners of the globe, in addition to the experience of living and studying in four countries per year. Students grow empathy when they’re shown how unfair the world can be to some communities, but also flourish from the spectrum of experiences the school grants, developing holistic learners.
Without a doubt, becoming a student at TGS will prove to be an immersive series of experiences that facilitate students’ growth for success in university, and beyond.