The learning community at quest, a pioneer in revolutionary self-directed education in chennai, presents“the unschooling project at quest”

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced families to adapt to home-schooling and tech-based study without any prior experience in the same. This is where Chennai-based Quest: The Learning Community, with a track record of expertise in alternative education, offers a permanent and viable solution. After years of evolving new methodologies based on international standards of self-directed learning, Quest proudly launch their latest initiative, The Unschooling Project At Quest, which offers a complete all-day programme based on self-directed learning.

Self-directed learning (SDL) or self-directed education (SDE) is a growing field supported by educators, psychologists and families around the world, and the methodologies that Quest incorporates are based on the concept of unschooling. Unschooling is a unique approach to education and is best described as non-structured, child-led learning with no set curriculum or schedule. As a self-directed learner, each child takes initiative and responsibility over their own educational experience, with the learning centre providing a holistic environment that supports the same. Tests, homework and other facets of conventional schooling are eliminated in this approach, which focuses on learning and individual growth and encourages the child to set parameters for the same, through planning, implementing and evaluating their own projects. This revolutionary approach has been shown to be successful in raising independent, self-motivated and creative individuals.

Co-founded by Srikanth Chandrasekaran and Sharanya Dilip in 2016, Quest is uniquely positioned not only to address current dilemmas about home-schooling during the pandemic, but to also assist and inspire families who seek to move away from conventional teaching methodologies altogether. Ahead of the curve, they have always incorporated tech interfaces into their modules, from the use of iPads at their learning spaces to their own Breadcrumb app.

Their most comprehensive offering to date is the The Unschooling Project at Quest, an all-day learning programme that offers a holistic replacement to standardised curriculums. It combines self-directed learning with socialisation options at the centre’s physical spaces, which are intelligently designed to remake the idea of what a classroom can be. Visits by leading experts, on-site mentors to offer guidance on request and field trips complete the experience. Unlike home-schooling, it does not require parental participation – and in fact actively discourages such interventions, thus empowering the young learner to steer their own education. This groundbreaking method brings joy and agency into learning, and uses the most trusted global practices to do so.

Speaking on the relevance of this dynamic alternative education system, co-founder Srikanth Chandrasekaran says, “Self-Directed Education has never been more relevant than at the present time, when change is happening at the speed of thought and disruption is the order of the day. The Unschooling Project offers an inclusive and expansive environment that can provide self-directed education to every child, where priority is given for continuums over curriculum, interest areas over subjects, schedules over timetables, goals over exams, sessions over classes, and customisation over standardisation.”

Quest also offers a range of modules to suit different needs, including the after-school Individualised Engagement Programme (IEP) and the Breadcrumb app. The IEP gives children access to different zones in the space, which comprise of sections including the Ratatouille kitchen, S.T.E.M, Art Hacks, Thread Works, Performing Arts, Games Zone and Library. Employing the Bloom’s Taxonomy model, which encourages higher forms of thinking including analysis and evaluation, in lieu of rote learning, children are encouraged to identify their own learning goals, choose their own learning modes, and even conduct self-appraisals on their performance. The Breadcrumb app is a fun and safe learning app that children can use to supplement their studies in a self-directed way.

This systemic shift that Quest creates also takes the emphasis away from teachers, who assist only when requested to. As co-founder Sharanya Dilip says, “No child is incompetent. With a nurturing environment and time to discover, explore and practice what they enjoy doing, we can raise empowered individuals. At Quest, we consciously practice the habit of not exercising force or control to make children do anything. Instead, we seek consent to assist them with our thoughts and ideas. More often than not, they are way more advanced in their thinking than we give them credit for!”

Quest has received recognition by the USA-based Alliance for Self-Directed Education, and supportive testimonies from experts including Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D., a research professor of psychology at Boston College and a specialist in developmental and evolutionary psychology. Dr. Gray remarked on his visit to the space, “I was extraordinarily impressed by what they have developed, which seems to be completely unique in the realm of self-directed education and potentially adaptable everywhere.”

Enrollments for The Unschooling Project at Quest are currently ongoing for the school year beginning June 2021, and applications for the same will close in January 2021. Moving on from their prior Palavakkam location, Quest will be operating from their new space in Besant Nagar from June 2021 onwards. For more details, please log on to http://questcommunity.in

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