Education is treated as a lifelong process at the International School of Ticino in Switzerland. From the age of three, students are encouraged to take an active role in shaping their experience as part of an inclusive and inquiry-based pedagogy that incorporates learning into everyday life.
“We have a very strong sense of community here,” says Principal Dr Martina Geromin. “This is a student-oriented educational system that aims to empower each individual by acknowledging and embracing diversity in a positive way.”
The school opened its doors in 2014 with a mission to provide a broad and balanced international education, delivering the Primary School Cycle and planning to introduce the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. Particular emphasis is placed on celebrating the unique talents of each individual and creating a supportive and stimulating environment that inspires children to play a proactive role in reaching their full potential.
“Parents choose the school for this unique and special learning environment,” says Dr Geromin. “There is a lot of space for innovative ideas and projects that come from the students, who are taken into consideration at all times.” Even the playground has an important role in the learning process at the International School of Ticino. The children set their own rules rather than having a structure imposed upon them by the school. This approach is enacted through positive behaviour policies and procedures, such as mindfulness activities and vertical-learning programmes. Children of all ages mix with one another, with older students becoming reading buddies for their juniors and students encouraged to take roles of responsibility, such as canteen managers, teacher assistants and line leaders.
These activities tie into the holistic learning philosophy that forms the foundation of the school’s pedagogy. “The approach is meant to develop all areas,” says Geromin, “be it academic, intellectual, social or emotional.”
It’s a system that encourages students to respect each other and take responsibility for the world they live in while discovering how they can make a difference in society. For instance, trips to the local police station and projects that involve working with the elderly help create a connection between the classroom and the real world, reinforcing the concept of learning as a continuous, collaborative experience.