Explorations: Learning Principles
For over 40 years, Explorations has created opportunities for young leaners to take part in educational experiences that are both challenging and captivating. From its founding, our organization has strived to empower educators to create environments where the true potential of young learners is realized. As we enter a new chapter of Explorations Learning, we look to our past and our principles to guide us forward.
Where it all started
Explorations was founded in 1981 by the Giftedness Centre at McGill University in the spirit of the World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children. The name Explorations stems from what its founders believed to be the very essence of the program: student interest as a powerful learning tool available.
Learners were invited to explore a variety of topics, including studio arts, mathematics, computers, humanities, and science. Within the first few years, Explorations adopted an “open-door” policy – no longer requiring tests of giftedness or letters of recommendation to join the summer program. The program soon became a teaching and learning hub by offering supervised internships for educators who wished to learn more about teaching bright students. It also served as a research site for investigations of gifted children and teens.
Today, Explorations has grown to serve over 350 children each summer, and our programs have expanded beyond the summer to March Break, weekends and weeknights. However, at our core, we still believe that by connecting young learners and inspired educators, we can create an exceptional experience.
Explorations Learning Principles
A principle is defined as a fundamental truth. It is an idea that, regardless of changes or innovations, forever remains a pillar of an organization. Five principals guide Explorations: Safety, Diversity of Learning, Inspired Educators, Organic Outcomes, Meaningful Connections.
Every person deserves a physically and emotionally safe environment to learn, to take risks, and to grow. In all our activities, programs and events, we aim to provide such an environment for our learners and educators.
We ensure physical safety through quality of supervision, facilities and materials. In all we do, the safety of our young learners will forever remain our top priority.
Emotional safety is much more challenging to measure. It stems not from physical objects or spaces, but rather from the creation of a caring, nurturing environment. For these reasons, Explorations consistently create spaces where our community feels safe to take risks and grow. This cannot be achieved by any single stakeholder, but must instead be embraced and championed by our entire community of learners, administrators, educators, and families.
Diversity of Learning
At Explorations, we embrace a diversity of learning opportunities as being key to authentic learning. Our teachers are encouraged to develop activities and projects that will propel learners into new ideas, interests and questions. We also seek the input of our community to help define new areas for us to explore together. However, the diversity of learning must not end with content. A true Explorations experience is also fuelled by a spectrum of teaching styles, project designs, personalities, opinions, and more.
Since it’s founding, our team of educators has been key to implementing active learning environments. Explorations actively seeks out the best teachers and educators for our programs. Through our structure and resources, we aim to provide our team of educators with a unique work environment where they feel capable of reaching their potential as teachers while seeking to innovate and improve their fields.
Explorations activities should never be tied to specific outcomes that constrain learning and limit the potential of the learners. Outcomes should be designed with the learners through inquiry and discussion. Doing so allows our educators to expand activity content to new areas while catering to the learning profile of their groups.
All programs, activities and events hosted by Explorations must aim to create meaningful connections between learners, educators and our community. By bringing together learners from diverse backgrounds and fields of interest, we create lifelong bonds that will transcend the boundaries of any single program or organization.
After nearly 40 years of existence, Explorations continues to strive towards our mission of connecting, inspiring and empowering learners and educators. To best accomplish this feat, we continuously seek to develop new programs, new ideas and unique learning opportunities for our community. Our principles guide us, keep us true to our mission and ensure that Explorations always stands as a home for authentic learning.