As any student could tell you, there is more to learning than simply sitting in class. English, Science, History — all these things are important, but they represent only one aspect of a student’s education. As the school curriculum evolves, there will be more chances to bring outside components — interests, hobbies, and the like —- into one’s formal education. An example of this progression that is already available at NISS and across the province is Independent Directed Studies.
Independent Directed Studies allows students, under the guidance of a supervisor at the school and with the principal’s approval, to design their own learning. Working toward the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) of traditional courses, students can take on a project and earn elective credits required for graduation. While the amount of credits varies, students are still able to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning and explore their interests.
While working with PLOs sounds limiting, there is a huge range of options to work with. Ideally, supervisors and students can design a project that benefits not only the student, but the school or community at large. And several of these Independent Directed Studies projects have been completed or on ongoing at NISS.
In one such project, two students are redoing the school’s central courtyard for credits in landscaping. Another built a combination greenhouse and shed on contract for Cheslakees School to earn credits in carpentry. Two students earned credits in Marketing and Business, respectively, while doing promotional work and other projects for the school’s Connections program. Finally, one student is writing the NISS News column for the Gazette and producing a Grade 12 yearbook for credits in journalism and design.
Independent Directed Studies is one of the many exciting changes to the ways students learn at school. Blending the two aspects of learning allows for engagement and results not possible in traditional formats.
As education continues to evolve, options like Independent Directed Studies give students the chance to customize their learning, making it more rewarding and truly their own.
Andrew Mitchell is a Grade 12 student at North Island Secondary School and an award-winning photographer.