VentureSchool’s academic program was designed from the ground-up to be student-centered and integrate seamlessly with the entrepreneurial education opportunities that will help students develop as leaders, innovators, and change agents in their community. We’re rooting our comprehensive and engaging core academic experience in the Triad Model Curriculum, which combines the overlapping aspects of teaching and learning in the Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Progressive Model into one. We are confident in using the Triad Model because these methods naturally fall into place with the learning needs of curious, determined, and discerning learners. There is certainly not a shortage of these kinds of students in Detroit. We recognize that developing a brand new approach to curriculum design can seem experimental, but we would never assume the right to “experiment” on learners who walk through our doors. That’s why we have dedicated years to developing this model and are asking the people of Detroit to take our work apart, examine it, and push back on our ideas before we put our ideas into action.
In this blog post and the two to follow, we’ll dismantle our Triad Model so that you can evaluate its inner workings, question us, and provide your input. I learned quickly as a middle and high school teacher that on the road to getting a student to engage with what we’re cooperating to uncover, understand, and apply in life outside of the classroom, things are much smoother if the student can relate it to something in her/his world. One of the most important drivers of coupling the pursuit of entrepreneurial thought with the Triad Model involves creating space for student choice to direct her/his learning. VentureSchool will support students as they determine, in cooperation with their teachers, the kinds of individuals they want to become and how utilizing an entrepreneurial mindset can set themselves up for success, regardless of their post-secondary pursuits.
The concept of the entrepreneurial mindset is introduced from day one at VentureSchool. The unpacking of this kind of thinking can be intimidating; it makes some people automatically think of business owners, some see all of the risks involved, some wonder, “Is there a place for me in that kind of world? Can I create a space for myself in that environment?” We recognize that the entrepreneurial experience is as varied as the people who pursue it. This is why our teaching and learning approaches are based in methods which put the student at the center and make her/his experiences as valuable as all of the content being explored and ultimately, applicable to the real world. The end goal is to ensure that the students realize that they can create a space for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship which reflects where they have come from and the world they intend to create.
Our curriculum is also intentionally crafted to be culturally relevant and responsive, which enables each student to relate course content to his or her cultural context. For example, in English Language Arts and theater courses, we look to writers who can more accurately reflect the lives of the students at VentureSchool. James Baldwin, Sherman Alexie, Octavia Butler, and Sharon M. Draper, for instance are authors who aren’t as often valued when we have conversations about what students “should” read. Providing a scaffold, something learners can use as a foundation and to hold on to as they continue their climb through higher levels thought and processing, is a key tenet of the Montessori, Reggio, and Progressive methods. These methods show us that a teacher who really wants to help students independently discover and foster their desire for more information is wise to first listen to where students' interests exist and exercise her/his curiosity about the life in which the student is growing.
In the next blog post, we will dive deeper into how the Triad Model works with the study of entrepreneurial thought and engagement. We will examine how this kind of learning can be measured, how we will make it accessible to parents, and how VentureSchool will engage in the prep work to ensure that students joining us are ready for this kind of learning.
Nicole Felice Lopez is the Director of Academics and Instruction at VentureSchool.
Have questions or comments about the triad method? Email Nicole here.