Emergent Learning is Engaged Learning


Traditionally, curriculum is paced and delivered according to established standards. The learning and subsequent results are pre-planned without allowing much room for learner-initiated exploration. After realizing that this was the norm in our current education system, I wondered, What if things were different?


At Springhouse, we engage in learning that is different - learning that is emergent. A pedagogical approach commonly found in Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environments, emergent learning refers to education that is responsive rather than prescribed or predetermined. According to Elizabeth Jones, co-author of Emergent Curriculum, in her NAEYC article entitled “The Emergence of Emergent Curriculum,” this approach taps into student interests and “focuses on the process of learning” rather than meeting specific standards of content knowledge. Springhouse values emergent learning and structures curriculum in a way that allows for it to occur.


When learning is emergent, it engages learners because it responds to their passions and curiosities. In his book, Sustainable Education: Re-visioning Learning and Change, Stephen Sterling asserts that learning "has to be meaningful, engaging and participative, rather than functional, passive and prescriptive" in order for learners to feel as though they have ownership of their learning.


Here at Springhouse, we are dedicated to reimagining the practice of education, which includes the ways in which we structure learning in secondary schools. Since emergent learning is a well-researched educational pedagogy for young children but not for older youth, Springhouse is charting new territory by offering adolescents an emergent learning environment that is structured to allow for spontaneity, curiosity, and freedom.

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