A new effort is trying to bring a fresh approach to gifted education—and it doesn’t take place in a school building.
It’s a homeschool curriculum and support system, with a somewhat unusual boarding school option that involves taking small groups of students on a kind of educational road trip.
There will be a curriculum, but the effort is primarily project based, tailored to the interests of each student.
It’s called the Collins Institute for the Gifted, and it is just about to publicly launch. Its leaders hope to run its first very small pilot program in the fall.
“You could call it ‘unschooling on rails,’ in the sense that it’s entirely self-directed learning, but we also provide more guidance,” says one of the program’s co-founders, Simone Collins.
This new program, which will focus on middle and high school, is founded by a couple with their own unusual stories, including personal difficulties with the current educational model when they were at school, which they overcame to become successful venture capitalists and authors.
For this week’s podcast, we connected with Collins to hear her vision of the program, and ask how it plays into debates about how to make gifted education more equitable.
Collins’s resume includes an unusual path to education, including helping to run a secret society for the controversial tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
“It’s reasonable, and decently research-supported,” says Jonathan Plucker, a professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, and past president of the National Association for Gifted Children. “They’re taking things that others have tried, they’ve repackaged them and there’s a little more flexibility,” he says, adding that the offering may work well for “a small group of parents and students.”
Collins concedes that the program will only work for a subset of students, but she hopes to one day make the institute’s offerings an option in the public school system, perhaps as a form of charter school.