Learning by Design: It's Not What You Know, But How You Think

Thinking independently is the best gift any education can provide. Kendra Shimmell teaches people how to do it.


In the second grade I was placed at a reading level for kids who were having challenges. Things I seemingly understood the year before, like the sounds letters make when combined, didn't make sense anymore. My reading comprehension was getting worse, not better. School was hard.

Luckily I was a very willful child with an even more willful mother who encouraged me to approach each challenge creatively—to make new connections, to question, and be curious. She made space for me to generate my own wacky ways of approaching my lessons—like the time when I made up a dance routine to act out participial phrases. She helped me discover how I learned, and this built up my confidence. I became accountable for my own education because it was a fun, creative challenge. Things started to gel, and school got easier.

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