Our goal is to facilitate deep exploration of students' primary strengths and passions—all while ensuring they build foundational knowledge in core subjects relevant to modern life (math, writing, coding, etc.) such that a deficiency in any of these domains will never be the factor that holds them back.
How do you define "gifted"?
We generally use the word gifted to mean a unique combination of self sufficiency and passion.
The Collins Institute for the Gifted is focused on helping slingshot the potential of gifted children and adults. By gifted we do not mean "scores generally well across the board on tests" but the type of person with the capacity to change the future of human civilization. We look for students and fellows that either have unique tenacity, ambition, dedication to one subject, or even just raw talent.
In fact, if you look at our admissions process, we do not even look at grades or traditional tests when judging whether a student is a good fit. Instead, students propose a project, a timeline, and key metrics on which they will be judged. Scholars are tentatively accepted into our program based on the gumption of their proposed projects and fully accepted if they complete their projects within the parameters they outlined.
When does the Collins Institute's first class launch?
The Institute's accelerator program is currently live.
The Institute's school is currently reviewing applications for its inaugural class, which launches the fall semester of 2022.
The Institute's inaugural boarding class launches the fall semester of 2023.
The Institute's more experimental efforts, like Project Eureka, will most likely launch after 2030.
How many hours a day does this program take a student?
This is a bit like asking, "how many hours a day does a marriage take?" The Collins Institute for the Gifted both takes 100% of a student's time and almost none of their time. The Institute is not like traditional schools in which a student sits down for X number of hours a day and learns Y thing. Instead, the Institute is about creating a lifestyle and mindset that allows students to learn more than they otherwise would being lectured for five hours a day.
How many hours a day does this program take a homeschool parent or tutor?
The Collins Institute requires fewer parent/caregiver hours than traditional homeschooling and more than legacy education systems. While much of the additional time will be somewhat ad hoc and based on the needs of the student, the Institute takes at least three hours a week of dedicated time from students' caregivers.
Can this a program be undertaken simultaneously with traditional school?
The Collins Institute is only effective when a student is given the freedom to learn on their own. If an additional "forced learning" environment is created, all the Institute becomes is a source of additional tests and busy work. The Institute however does pair very well with focused learning environments chosen by the student, such as coding academies, language immersion trips, and even programs like Synthesis.
What are the advantages of the boarding or homeschool models?
We aim for all of our students to have a comparable experience, but there are some experiences we can only adequately convey through the boarding school model (such as language immersion). We recommend the typical student aim to spend at least one month a year in the boarding school so we can work with them on their social progress and to help facilitate their bond with classmates.
Schooling through the Collins Institute in a home environment is ideal for students who have strong, positive familial dynamics. Students who thrive at home and work best with familiar surroundings and fixed routines benefit disproportionately from schooling from home. Likewise, some students benefit immensely from traveling with itinerant parents (essentially worldschooling with them) in a manner that rivals the travel experienced through our boarding program.
In cases in which home environments are suboptimal—or in which a student would benefit from a drastic change of scene—the Collins Institute's boarding program is superior to home-based studies.
Is this a good environment for children with disabilities?
With one of our founders having type two autism, The Collins Institute not only caters to neurodiversity but was shaped by it.
The Collins Institute is a perfect environment for some disabilities, negating many of the negative ways they can impact education, but presents an abysmal learning environment for others, amplifying rather than negating problems. We are strong believers in the neurodiversity movement and believe that many neurological differences labeled as disabilities should just be thought of as different ways of being that can be accommodated through a less structured environment.
Why do you start in middle school?
Unlike many modalities, Montessori education is not fundamentally broken when applied to the age range for which it was designed (primary education). We therefore see it as a much lower priority to create another alternative for the primary educational system.
Why does Montessori (and to a lesser extent unschooling) work for young kids while falling short for students in middle and high school? Before middle school, the goal of education is to provide students with an optimal environment for their natural development. However, during middle and high school, the school system must start preparing students to thrive in a society that, in many ways, features unnatural constructs.
To use a plant metaphor: Primary education only needs to give a growing plant sunlight, water, and nutrients to ensure it has the most vigorous growth possible, whereas secondary school is tasked with guiding plants on to trellises and into shapes optimized to bear specific fruit valued in our society.
Would this be true in an ideal world? Maybe not. But it is true in this one.
Is your aim to replace traditional education?
While traditional education needs something to replace it, we are not that solution. The Collins Institute for the Gifted is designed for a very specific disposition and way of learning and will hurt students with different styles. This is why we rigorously vet our applicants and their families. Moreover, the manner in which the Institute uses experts and testing in real-world environments would fall apart if attempted at scale. For these reasons, the Institute will always be focused on helping preeminent students reach their potential while developing new educational models that other, more scalable systems may incorporate when addressing the wider failure of the educational system.
Are you a nonprofit?
The Collins Institute is run by a nonprofit funded primarily by the Collins family and sales of the nonprofit's book series.
How can I donate / contribute?
We aim to be as collaborative as possible in the way we work with those who share our passion. If you want to see the Collins Institute's dream come to fruition, please reach out!