Experiencing Success In What’s Next: The Six Pillars of New Pathways

Key Points

  • Pathways are not just for high school.

  • Learning can happen anywhere at any time.

new pathways six pillars

At Getting Smart, we often frame challenges according to the idea that we are all solutionaries. We often ask, “How might we…” in the face of new challenges in order to reimagine what’s next in learning. This mindset led us to think about how personalized pathways may be the key to launching learners into new and individualized journeys: 

  • How might we create an ecosystem where learning doesn’t just happen at school?
  • How might we rethink the ways students show their genius?
  • How might we connect learners to the future of work and learning?
  • How might we combine accelerated skill development with project-based and work-based learning?
  • How might we create safe places that equip learners to fully express themselves with confidence?
  • How might pathways lead to networks supporting and creating strong foundations for new and equitable learning models?

Thus, our New Pathways campaign had been born. Comprised of the six pillars: Unbundled Learning, Credentialed Learning, Accelerated Pathways, New Learning Models, Support and Guidance, and Policies and Systems and steered by our guiding principles of: Intentionality, Equity, Curation and Purpose, the goal of New Pathways is to help learners experience success in what’s next.

Unbundled Learning allows for permissionless learning and increases student agency. Learners choose when and where learning experiences happen and are provided with the resources and support they need to achieve the greatest impact. Through unbundled learning, the school building no longer serves as the primary space for learning, but becomes one space in a portfolio of many.

Credentialed Learning doesn’t rely on the traditional measurements of success for learners. Recognizing that one way to determine competency no longer serves most learners, credentialed learning measures human development and invites learner voice and choice into every aspect of the learning journey. Credentialed learning makes learning curated, portable, personalized and accessible.

Accelerated Pathways brings to light the experiences that learners can have before graduation. Learners no longer have to wait “until they become an adult” to have real world learning experiences. Accelerated Pathways allows learners to gain college credit, become an apprentice, attend boot camps and more to experience success instead of just imagining it. Accelerated Pathways connects learners to the future of work with right now experiences.

New Learning Models answers the question, “How do we teach learners more than just skills?” Through new learning models, structures are created to allow learners to have options. Whether a microschool, a school within a school or a school focused on one specific pathway, new learning models focus on how to improve the learning experience for all. 

Support and Guidance is the how for all of the new pathways. Learners have the potential and the knowledge to determine what’s best for them, but resources, tools and mentors are needed along the way. Strong advisory systems increase the potential in all learners, helps learners to understand their identity and where they belong and creates a space for them to feel safe and vulnerable. 

Policies and Systems create the foundation for new pathways to scale. Utilizing networks, systems and policies to shift the traditional ways of learning, this pillar plays an integral role in shaping accessible and equitable experiences for all learners. Strong policies and systems are necessary to unbundle learning so that it’s not the same for all, personalize learning with the learner leading the way and create sustainable systems to scale the process and impact policies.

Many learners are navigating high school (and beyond) without a sense of who they are, what they’re good at, or what change they want to see in the world. When a  journey to personalized pathways for learners is realized, the future of education and learning is not within reach for some, but it’s within reach for all learners. 

Are you ready to journey with us on this New Pathway? You can engage with this ongoing campaign using #NewPathways or submit contributions to Editor.

Shawnee Caruthers

Shawnee Caruthers is the Director of Advocacy at Getting Smart and is a longtime educator with a background in marketing, journalism and advertising. She has a particular interest in CTE, words and empowering young people to control their own narrative.

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