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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Apr 11, 2023

Navigating a complex world is daunting and it becomes even more challenging for people who think and learn differently. These students may struggle in the traditional school environment, particularly with engagement. They might even ask, “What’s the point?” 

But the traditional school environment isn’t the only option and today’s guests from Qualia: The School for Deeper Learning join this conversation about how their model of education not only engages students but prepares them to navigate adulthood with strong critical thinking skills.

Qualia can be compared to an all-day intellectual dinner party – a place where brainy word play, clever argumentation, and surprising ideas come together in a milieu that provokes, entertains and inspires. Jim Hahn and Dr. Jon Cassie explain the importance of creating the space and time for reflection, reasoning, existential questioning, and the sharing and communicating of ideas and how this became the core of deeper learning at Qualia.


Show Notes:

[2:15] - The focus is often on remediation for students who struggle, but critical thinking is overlooked.

[3:37] - At Qualia, students take Philosophy courses every year to help develop critical thinking skills.

[6:20] - Why Philosophy? What is it about this subject area that Qualia focuses on?

[8:06] - Adding in this model of education is impactful as early as Kindergarten.

[9:26] - With small class sizes, teachers can give students the appropriate amount of attention and hold real conversations.

[11:51] - Through sharing and communicating ideas, students show their identity rather than letting their diagnoses be their identity.

[13:20] - Jim describes the outcomes of this type of educational model.

[15:45] - Having an influence on critical thinking early on pays off in adulthood.

[18:53] - There are five questions that are crucial to someone’s ability to think critically about anything they encounter.

[20:51] - These conversations are so memorable for students. This “less is more” approach makes things simple but impactful.

[23:05] - Content is important, but linking the content to the big questions is what creates deep learning.

[24:56] - How do introverts do in this type of environment? Jim and Jon share what the culture is like at Qualia.

[26:20] - Character development is another key component in these types of discussions.

[28:03] - Dr. Wilson shares the online description of Qualia which is a depiction of meaningful, deep learning that can happen there.

[29:57] - Kids are eager to make connections and adults can serve as facilitators.

[31:31] - Teachers trust students to carry a conversation, collaborate and solve messy problems.

[32:35] - The challenges through this model of learning are realistic.

[33:42] - The focus on helping students develop connections and discover themselves prepares them to navigate a complex world.

[35:30] - Listen to an example of a student’s work on environmental justice.


About Our Guests:

Jim Hahn

An inveterate explorer of knowledge, ideas, contraptions, and cultures, Jim has taught everything from philosophy to chemistry to Rube Goldberg Machines during his 30+ year career in education. As the founder of Qualia: The School For Deeper Learning, Jim is bringing his renowned cutting-edge educational model to a new level with his democratic educational philosophy, unique teaching and mentoring approach, and innovative deep learning curriculum. Jim began his teaching career at Crossroads School, then joined New Roads as Academic Dean and Dean of Faculty, and later founded Areté Preparatory Academy to create a next-generation school for brilliant and independent young minds for over a decade. Jim has inspired many students to think deeply, care deeply, and forge extraordinary paths. Jim is the proud parent of an Areté alumna, currently attending Pitzer College, and a current Qualia student; both children are living embodiments of the impactful results of Jim’s transformative and revolutionary educational methods.


Dr.  Jon Cassie

Dr. Cassie has been in independent school education for 25 years serving in virtually every teaching and leadership capacity schools have to offer. His book on game-based learning, Level Up Your Classroom was published in 2016 and won a gold medal for best technical book from Association Media and Publishing in 2017. His chapter on social-emotional learning and roleplaying games, "Don't Split the Party," was published in "Teaching in the Game-Based Classroom," in 2021. He has also written for the tabletop roleplaying sector for about 20 years. Two of his books, Loot and Folkways are about cultural aspects of roleplaying design and are available on DriveThruRPG. Dr. Cassis also hosts two podcasts about education - "Many Windows" and "Game Level Learn." He has also appeared on a number of podcasts speaking about the future of education, given the commencement address at Northland Pioneer College, and has presented at conferences and forums on learning and games in the US and abroad. He earned his doctorate from UCLA in 2010. 


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.