The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry is an alternative high school located in downtown Victoria that focusses on inquiry based learning. We were given the opportunity to sit down with the schools founder and principle as well as tour the school and speak with the students. In total, there are 85 students enrolled and only 5 teachers. When I first found this out I couldn’t imagine how this could work, but after walking into the doors it was clear that the students main form of learning is independent and the teachers are only there to serve as educational guides. There is a lot of openness around mental health on the campus, including a room which they call the “cave” that students can book up when they feels they need some space; it is suited up with fidgets, weighted blankets, and different lighting. Student’s are treated as adults and are able to come and go as they please, they are also able to choose topics that interest them. After choosing the theme for their learning, the student must then develop learning plan which shows how this one area of interest is going to be able to help them expand their knowledge in other subject areas. For example, a female student who is very passionate about figure skating decided to calculate the speed and velocity of her spins (meeting physics and maths requirements), go to practice every afternoon (meeting physical education requirements), and design costumes for recitals (meeting her art requirements). She was able to do all this because her interest in the subject area drives her to deepen her learning.
I think this is a great school for many students who are struggling through traditional schooling and whom experience test anxiety. Personally, I don’t think I would have thrived in this schooling environment as a teenager as I would not have had the drive to do the work without the deadlines and due dates. I went to a big high school and loved the diverse social groups as well as having the space to roam the halls. Some of the highlights of my high school “career” are attending sporting events to cheer on my friends who were playing. Because of this schools smaller size there are not any team sports available, and for me that was a large part of my life.