Innovative Lakeview High School Provides Real World Vision for Education
By Caroline Roper, July 26, 2010
The Global Citizenship Experience (GCE) has a new model for education. Eric Davis, the Lakeview school’s founder says, “The world has changed; we have to change with it.” GCE is particularly unique in its rigor, student-led learning, and emphasis on field experience.
Zach S., a student at GCE during the school’s pilot year, says that what makes the school rewarding is, “the level of challenge. I used to say that I was finished when I had done what the teacher said, but [the teachers at GCE] told me to take it farther. It broadened my horizons.” Zach’s work includes a geodesic dome he built and an extensive project exploring mental health treatment throughout history.
According to Davis, GCE’s model for learning is rare partly because it is challenging for the staff to create and deliver, but mainly because, “There is a tradition that says academia is one thing, and we’re willing to shoulder the burden of critique to pursue what we believe is 21st century education.” The school connects the students’ learning to the real world through field experiences. Each week, students explore Chicago neighborhoods, interview local leaders, shadow at organizations, and attend arts events.
Last year, students interviewed local farmers and grocery managers to study current agricultural practices and their social effects. They took a tour of the Newberry Library, explored a neuroscience lab, and experienced an hour in a sensory deprivation tank – a dark, soundproof tank designed to promote meditation. As students progress they also learn through job shadowing and service learning.
The school’s curriculum teaches relevant and practical skills through diverse topics, such as architecture, neuroscience, philosophy, and religion. Students also partner with the school to customize their own curriculum. Zach says, “You don’t have to fit a certain mold to succeed. You mold the school to how you want to succeed.”