By now, I’m pretty sure the entire universe has watched this fantastic TedX talk by 13-year-old Logan Laplante. If you haven’t you should totally take the 11 minutes and 13 seconds to do so now.
I’m always super excited when something like this comes out and I get tagged in no less than a dozen posts on Facebook with people saying things like “This is what you’re doing at Ampersand!”
Logan so eloquently discusses an issue that Ampersand was built to tackle – taking the focus of schooling away from “career readiness” and bringing having happy and confident kids to the forefront of our mission.
Right at the top of our home page, we are super clear. The goals of Ampersand are 1. Happiness, 2. Confidence and 3. Action. I invite you to explore our thoughts on these and the rest of our philosophy.
We think homeschooling is awesome exactly for the reasons that Logan outlines in his talk – it allows for individualization and customization, for students to take ownership of their learning, for really flexible scheduling, for taking advantage of all the great things communities like Orlando and the greater Central Florida area already offer. But homeschooling is hard. Not all parents have the time and resources to be able to design the kinds of experiences that Logan is getting to have or access to the wide range of activities, mentors and support groups necessary to make sure students aren’t stuck only exploring those areas their immediate family has access to. Homeschooling is a full-time job. If you are already working full-time, adding homeschooling on top of that can be really daunting.
We have built Ampersand to help solve this problem. Ampersand is built to allow that same individuality and flexibility, but within a school setting. Our goal is still for students to take control of their own learning – we just provide a place for them to do that and a group of people to help that have a really wide and diverse background and network in Orlando and beyond. Attendance is super flexible and we are constantly out of the building, taking our students to things in Orlando and beyond. We think we’re as close as you can get to that ideal “hackschool” experience in Orlando and still keep your day job.
This model isn’t for everyone (we mean not for every parent. This works for just about every kid). It is a different way of approaching education than what we all went through. We don’t deny that. We embrace it. We don’t think that the traditional model is serving student’s best interests – even when those students are “successful” in them. At the end of the day, thought, change is change. Doing something different, as Logan said in his talk, “freaks a lot of people out.” If that is the case, Ampersand may not be for you. But if the thought of a school that focuses on happy and confident students working on projects they are passionate about excites you – please say hello!