In the United States, many students graduate from high school ill-equipped for the rigors of college and life; the Walkabout Consilient School teaches the skills necessary for this critical transition into adulthood. According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 61% of high school students lack the mathematics skills and 62% lack the reading skills needed for entry-level college courses. According to a recent survey conducted by Achieve, Inc., only 18% of college professors feel that most of their students come to college very well-prepared. The root cause of underperformance is student disengagement which has reached epidemic proportions in America. While 80% of elementary school students are engaged, by the time they enter high school this number plummets to only 40%.

The Walkabout Consilient School drives student engagement through a curriculum that is relevant, authentic, challenging and consilient. Our curriculum is divided into five “challenge areas”: Wilderness Experience; Applied Academics; Career Internship; Service Learning; and Final Presentation. Throughout these challenge areas, students engage in a transdisciplinary, experiential, self-directed, and project-based learning process.

Wilderness Experience - During wilderness expeditions, students embark on backpacking trips where community, self-confidence and leadership are cultivated. This takes place in a context of positive risk taking and is referred to in all subsequent challenge areas.

Service Learning - The service learning challenge area affords students the opportunity to connect and interact with their communities in meaningful ways as they begin to explore and demonstrate the rights and responsibilities of a proactive, informed citizen.

Applied Academics - Applied academics provide students with the opportunity to master core competencies while they develop the metacognitive skills necessary to be successful in life including communications, time management, organization, leadership and problem solving. Rigorous transdisciplinary academics foster mastery of core competencies through small, discussion-based classes where students collaborate to identify and solve real-world problems. Standards and accountability are driven through a continuous cycle of self-assessment, peer review and teacher feedback.

Career Internship - The internship challenge area brings students together with professionals in their fields of interest, affording them mentorship, apprenticeship, real-world job training, transferrable skills, and a network of community leaders who share a stake in their success.

Final Presentation - Throughout the school year, students assemble a portfolio of work that exemplifies the intellectual, practical, and attitudinal skills they have acquired. This work is presented to an audience of peers, mentors, community stakeholders, parents, and friends as evidence of their transition from childhood to adulthood and their readiness to embark upon the next phase of their lives.

These challenge areas offer unique experiential learning opportunities that are relevant, authentic and personalized to student needs, allowing students to move beyond their perceived limitations. The sense of responsibility and ownership gleaned from real-world experiences reinvigorates students throughout all aspects of their lives: classroom, community and home.