WALKABOUT CONSILIENT SCHOOL
Walkabout (wôk′ə-bout′) : a rite of passage experience during which Australian Aboriginal adolescents undergo a journey in order to prove their ability to negotiate the world and sustain themselves
Consilient (kən-ˈsil-yənt) : 1. the interconnectedness of principles from different disciplines that form a comprehensive theory and understanding 2. the agreement between the approaches to a topic of different academic subjects, especially science and the humanities 3. the unity of knowledge
High School (haɪ skuːl) : an American institution, invented in the 19th century
The Walkabout Consilient School is our vision for the new American high school.
A “walkabout” is an Australian aboriginal rite of passage that marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It provides a young person with the opportunity to practice and demonstrate the skills and knowledge required of their community’s adults. Upon successful completion, the young person is endowed with all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Most cultures have practiced a variation of this ritual for millennia, but it has never been an integral part of the traditional American education system. Our innovative idea is to give American high school students a meaningful, contemporary rite of passage into adulthood. We envision a school that explicitly guides students through this demanding and fertile transition using a multi-tiered, recursive approach consisting of challenge-oriented experiential learning environments that emphasize the co-development of interpersonal skills and rigorous academic standards.
The word ‘consilient’ refers to the unity of knowledge, the idea that all knowledge, all subjects and disciplines, corroborate and complement each other. The practice of consilience in education seeks to efficiently engage the entire learning landscape to create critical, invested thinkers. This practice integrates comprehensive subject knowledge and utilizes local best practices and resource cultivation both inside and outside the school walls. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, schools have increasingly adopted standards of efficiency and consistency that reflect the practices of factory production. This model takes the coherent nature of our world and subdivides it into disconnected disciplines. It is an abstraction that betrays the beauty, efficiency, and accessibility of wisdom that are the hallmarks of a healthy and productive culture. Disconnected knowledge creates dispirited, disengaged students. We cannot expect our students to master or integrate content that is so seemingly divorced from the world that it purports to explain.
The consilient approach insists that our school makes explicit the ways in which content aligns and agrees with its adjacencies. As students discover the interconnectedness of knowledge, they also discover their own relationship to knowledge, to themselves and to their world. They grow in self-confidence as they develop and hone a wide variety of metacognitive skills that serve them for a lifetime. More than simply an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach, the consilient framework informs every aspect of the school and fosters continuity and alignment of principle and purpose. Our consilient approach identifies and connects the three major components of the school: Consilient Curriculum, Engaged Community and Active Campus. These components are embedded within a challenge-rich environment that motivates all students to set and achieve high expectations. Challenge-oriented learning also empowers our students to become lifelong learners and contributing members of their communities. This results in a truly unique, highly relevant and authentic environment for all constituents.
It is our goal to expand this vision and engage as many students as possible. We believe the Walkabout Consilient School can offer all students a deeply engaging educational experience that is immersive, enjoyable, and responsive to their personal goals and needs.