Problem: The project goes against traditional learning methods, which not only create schools that are dissociated from their surroundings, but also passive students and teachers that simply convey knowledge. The elementary school known as Discovery 1 was founded in the city of Christchurch, in New Zealand, in 2001, and its teaching methods were based on John Clough's innovative teaching methods. The school was implemented in a building in the city's downtown area, where it would be easier for students to have contact with facilities in the school's surroundings. Two years later, the Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti high school was established following the same principles. An earthquake affected the buildings of both of these schools in 2011. Because of the damage suffered, the schools were forced to operate elsewhere. In 2013, they were closed and joined together in a new building, which gave rise to the Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery School, beginning in 2014.
Solutions: This publicly funded elementary and high school is managed with the participation of families and the community. Students follow a personalized curriculum that is outlined in collaboration with their teachers and parents. Individual meetings occur regularly, and allow students, their parents and school counselors to not only discuss which lessons should be prioritized but also establish shared goals. Various community actors are involved in the process of learning and apprenticeship, which occurs at the school and at various venues throughout the city. Students are placed at the center of their learning and are encouraged to be creative, innovative and take risks. They can spend part of their classroom time outside of the school by visiting places within the city that they find interesting, such as libraries, parks, museums and athletic centers. Students can also choose a day of the week to study at home and are allowed to participate in study groups that can be convened at the home of one of the students. Another activity that is encouraged is students' contact with professionals that work in areas they are interested in, so they can gain an understanding of how these professions function in the real world.
Outcomes: Students feel more motivated and engaged in the learning process. They have fun as they learn. Parents and teachers also feel more motivated in being part of the learning process of children and adolescents. Students learn to investigate their own interests, have their curiosity piqued and make discoveries on their own. Positive relationships are fostered among students, teachers, professionals, parents and the community.