Education Redesigned for Forward-Thinking Families

12 years ago, Julia Black was a parent trying to solve a problem for her own child.

The problem?

The traditional education system that her child was in was not doing enough. She saw that her daughter was disengaged and lacked a passion for learning.

A few years later, Julia decided to take matters into her own hands. She made the drastic decision to pull her child out of school and start her own learning initiative: Explorium.

Creating Explorium and an Approach to Personalized Education

Julia had the vision to create a structure that allowed every child to get excited about learning.

She wanted to see children become engaged, creative, passionate, and curious again.

Explorium started as a physical Creative Learning Centre that facilitated personalized education for families who had opted for home education. Julia even ended up taking on students from a nearby secondary school who needed a more personalized learning plan.

Through this, she moved the center onsite to a school, to assist learners who needed an alternative approach to learning.

This only confirmed Julia’s conviction: there was a lot more work to be done.

Julia wanted to not only empower children but their families too. She wanted to help parents, like herself, to make a change in their own homes and on their own terms.

Explorium has now grown into an online academy that empowers families to navigate their own learning journeys in a way that helps children learn from the inside out.

Through this personalized learning platform, children can become passionately engaged with learning again.


What is Lights On and how does it work?

To support Explorium’s approach, Julia created a transformational framework called Lights On.

The framework is simple: it helps families to understand why their children don’t like learning, and then how to switch a love for learning back on.

In her own words, Julia says:

“When your children’s lights are off, they are not actively engaged with their education. They usually find school boring and they resist it. Even if they might even get good grades, they are not passionate about learning and tend to be passive consumers of TV, Youtube, etc.”

And once the switch is flipped?

‘Lights On’ families are highly motivated and continuously find passion-led projects that switch them on. They explore different topics with curiosity and have learned to manage their emotional learning journey to master new skills.”

In order to develop this framework, Julia looked to 3 main sources:

Project-based learning

In order to understand the world of current alternative education, it was important to see what were the most innovative education models out there - and what was already working.

Neuroscience

Julia dived in the study of the brain in order to understand what makes us tick. She wanted to know more about what learning actually is and how humans learn on a neurological level.

Real-world learning

Having worked with thousands of learners, Julia had a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t. Looking back on her own experience, she looked into:

  • What qualities made children excited about learning?
  • What made children self-directed?
  • What made children struggle with learning?

Additionally, it was important to incorporate the four C’s of the 21st century:

  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking

This Lights On framework ensures that all children can achieve ‘successful learning’. When a learner gets to this point, it means that they are intrinsically motivated, find learning fun and inspiring, and want to dive deeper on their learning adventure.

According to Julia, there are three keys to successful learning:

Passion

You empower children to discover what they enjoy, what interests them, what they were born to explore, and their natural talents.

Mindset

By encouraging learners to take ownership of their learning, they lose the fear of failure. This allows them to push the boundaries of knowledge and dive deep into learning their learning journey.

Time

The earlier that children are able to reframe their approach to learning, the better. This allows for more time to explore their purpose-driven learning journey.

Overall, the Lights On approach gives each child the right to learn in their own way. By discovering what switches on each learner’s light, they are empowered to be authentically themselves.


The Advantages of Personalized Learning for the Whole Family

Reframing education involves more than just the learner. To really transform the way a child approaches their learning journey, the whole family needs to be involved.

Children learn so much about their attitudes and values from the adults in their lives. Therefore, parents and other caregivers play a crucial role in empowering their children to learn.

Parents have their own beliefs that need breaking down. Everything from how they approach failure, individuality, and passion affects children.

Learners are limited by how the adults in their lives approach and understand learning. Parents themselves need to become deep learners in order to empower their children to do so.

As a parent in that situation, Julia acknowledges the challenges involved. Based on her own experience, she believes that education should be as empowering to the parents as it is to the children.

The parents need to dismiss their fear of failure just as much as their children need to.


Personalized Education: Recommendations for Parents

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we need to be adaptable.

We want to teach our children to learn, unlearn and relearn. However, we need to commit to this, too.

Having turned the Creative Learning Centre into a virtual platform, Explorium has had the opportunity to connect with so many more families. This has given parents the opportunity to experiment with the Lights On approach and find out more about their culture of learning.

With schools shutting down for a period this past year, many parents were able to engage with their child’s learning for the first time.

As a result of this, many parents have been able to witness how disengaged their children have become.

So where to now?

Starting a home education journey can be daunting and overwhelming at times. Julia recommends that the best place to start is simply to engage with your child.

Find out what they like and why, what they don’t like and why, what lights them up, and what doesn’t. Through this, you can understand more about what interests your child, as well as what kind of mediums they can best express themselves through.

Explorium runs ‘jam’ sessions that help parents to start this journey. These sessions help to equip them with the basic tools and understanding needed to start empowering their child.


Transformation in Action with Personalized Education

Julia has worked with thousands of learners.

Since moving online, the academy has been able to connect with so many more families around the world.

Over the years she has seen some incredible transformations where learners have completely rediscovered their passion for learning.

Julia shared one of her favorite anecdotes about a 13-year-old learner called Ollie.

For his entire school career, Ollie had been told that he was not a good learner and his grades had been suffering. After his first session at the Creative Learning Centre, Julia could immediately tell that he wanted to create.

He was a visual learner and was therefore drawn to visual mediums like animation. Ollie had an absolute eye for design and all things visual.

So, Julia gave him a number of creative briefs where he was able to express himself through these mediums.

Through this journey, he had the opportunity to share his passion for photography with Julia. Julia encouraged Oille to submit one of his photographs to a friend of hers in the industry.

The authenticity that he brought to his learning was incredible, and Julia shares that his confidence blossomed.

That year, Ollie had the best school report he’d ever received and was engaging with his peers and teachers.


Where is Education Heading Next?

It’s undeniable that change is needed.

We need to evolve our approach to learning and education. Where this change is needed most is with change-makers and policymakers.

Everyone deserves the right to learn in their own unique way, and our education systems need to catch up with that. Julia shares her future view of schools where exams and assessments are done away with, and multi-medium portfolios replace them.

Moreover, mental health needs to be a priority in education on all levels.

The sooner we start checking how many children are learning with their lights on, and how many with their lights off, the sooner we can discover how to transform the status quo.


Are you hoping to transform your child into a passionate, self-directed, and curious life-long learner? Galileo is a community of facilitators, learners, and parents who are working towards the goal of reimagining education.

We help future-looking families to empower their children beyond the classroom. At Galileo, we allow learners to curate their own learning journeys while supporting them every step of the way.

Join us! Let’s revolutionize education.

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