It seems appropriate that we post the first entry of the REDI Lab blog on a day when co-director Tom Thorpe and I had the opportunity to see Sir Ken Robinson speak at the National Association of Independent School Annual Conference. In his now famous 2006 TED Talk, Robinson wondered, “Do schools kill creativity?” Today, he urged educators to be purposeful in their efforts, saying, “Don’t be surprised if a system does what it was designed to do.”

When I began my tenure at Colorado Academy in 2006, Robinson’s question was one that I asked myself often as I worked toward the goal of improving student learning outcomes. And one of the results of these efforts was the Global Dialogues Initiative, which started in 2010 as a program for seniors intended to cross-germinate their thinking. Although it was short-lived, the Global Dialogues Initiative was the first in a series of prototypes created to investigate how we might improve learning for students.

As a part of this work, we launched the REDI Lab with nine students this past week. REDI is an acronym that represents the cornerstones of the program: Research, Entrepreneurship, Design, and Inquiry.

The program was designed to give juniors the time, support, and creativity to work on big ideas as a part of a substantive personal project. It seeks to be transformative by immersing students in a self-directed learning environment as a path toward agency and efficacy. At its core, the REDI Lab is based on the sentiment expressed by neuroscientist, Dr. Joy Hirsch, “I love the idea of the vision that there’s a way to bring out the genius in all of us.”