We talk to Emma Buckle, director of Learnlife Barcelona Nature Hub, and a school leader of 12 years’ experience in education with a passion for learning and the great outdoors.
Learnlife Barcelona is a learning community for children and young adults from 6 to 19.
Emma talks passionately about this alternative form of education where young learners are ‘guided’ rather than ‘taught’, and explains how students are assessed and what type of further education or jobs learners might move on to.
Emma says that Learnlife Barcelona is for anyone and everyone, as ‘each learner is unique and has different qualities and passions’.
The school’s learning model is based on the Japanese concept of Ikigai, and encourages learners to ‘understand what their purpose is in life, what they care about changing in the world and what they feel their strengths are’.
Learners are of diverse backgrounds, including international, local Catalan and mixed heritage.
Emma says there is no formal qualification for learners, which can be a ‘pain point’ or ‘blocker’ for parents.
Emma says the institution has innovative ways of assessing their students, and guide each one to prepare a portfolio that can lead to acceptance in international universities. Learnlife is currently developing a Learnlife Vitae they aim to make internationally accepted by forward-thinking universities.
The school offers three separate programmes for learners aged 6-19 in Barcelona.
(0:40) MumAbroad: What is Learnlife Barcelona? Is it a school?
Emma: The easiest way to explain Learnlife Barcelona is that we are an international, global learning community, with a mission to change education for the better. We have a paradigm and a team of experts worldwide to inform a new model for learning, and then we have learning hubs and these are where that philosophy and paradigm is actually put into practice. We like to think of them as like of step beyond traditional schools. If you look at a classroom, it’s one of the things hasn’t really seemed to change at all compared to 50 years ago. What we want to do is reclaim what school could be and what it stands for. It’s a place for truly personal learning and for personal learning journeys where the individual is celebrated and can really grow and thrive.
(17:45) MumAbroad: What kind of jobs could students look for after Learnlife?
Emma: I always remember one parent of a learner who was really into creative art and fashion and has ended up setting up his own business and fashion agency creating T-shirts and different merchandise. I remember his mother two years ago saying to me that when you join Learnlife as a parent the question changes – the question doesn’t become which university can they go to or how can they go on to study somewhere else, the question becomes why? Because maybe they can just do something else. That stuck with me because her son came and really developed a passion, an entrepreneurial sprit, and had it very clear in his mind his own path which he explored in the creative studios and then went on to set up his own business.
Because we’re focused on them finding their passion. It’s often the parents thinking about their next step to university. The learners are just thinking ‘what do care about?’ ‘what do I want to do?’.