At the recent Christmas Bazaar I got to catch up with some friends who used to work at my school but left teaching to set up an education startup called Skyrock Projects, offering creative tech programs for kids aged 8 to 15. When they first described the idea to me, I suggested that they pitch it to parents as: “If you’re worried about your kid getting a job, send them to the buxiban. If you want them to be an entrepreneur, send them to us.” They have a project-based curriculum, where kids build things and explore how to do this through self-paced lessons on their online platform. Some really cool stuff.
One of the particularly interesting things that came up in conversation was that their initial hope, to pitch to high schoolers and offer the hard STEM content that most schools can’t afford to offer, didn’t work out. There simply wasn’t demand for a creative educational option for high school kids in Taiwan. Why? They’re all too busy focusing on achieving top grades at school. If it isn’t quantifiable and can’t appear as a GPA on their academic transcripts, students aren’t interested and neither are their parents.
As a result, my friends have shifted the pitch they’re making to potential students and their parents by focusing on younger students, and the primary school age bracket is where they get most of their enrollment. This aligns with what I’ve been reading about the proliferation of makerspaces and the maker movement, getting kids building things – there’s a desire for it, but not one that many high schools can satisfy without affecting the bottom line: performance in academics.
I’m really looking forward to finding out more about what Tony and Simon have learned about the reception of constructivist & constructionist learning here in Taiwan.