The purpose of Odyssey School is to provide education that allows students to discover meaning and value in life. Students around the age of 17 feel curious about the world beyond their selves and, at the same time, are worry and overwhelmed from uncertainty because they do not know the way to interact with the world. They are filled with questions: “What is the purpose in life?” “Is this right to live?” “Why do we need a family?” They are easily irritated, angry or upset, or contemplate a question that cannot be answered for several days. Feeling lost in the adolescence age is accompanied by “a journey to discover the direction and values in life” they pursue.
However, the adolescence period in Korea does not allow to feel lost and wander. They are deprived of the opportunity to grow and mature. Numerous ‘adult-babies’ are found even reaching more than 20 years. Odyssey School supports students to spend a full year for being curious, asking questions, thinking about their own selves and the world around them, and making new attempts, so they find out more about themselves and their world. To effectively imply them, the core values of Odyssey School were set to “relaxation and introspection,” “autonomy and citizenship,” and “wisdom and courage.”
“Education to discover the direction and values in life” is not just a declaration but an educational guideline and standard practiced in Odyssey School. In the beginning of the practice, the question was, “How can the ‘education to discover direction and values in life’ be possibly practiced?” Searching an answer, we critically examined the conventional education system and re-examined domestic and foreign cases of alternative education as well as our own experiences during the past 20 years.
The conclusion we ultimately reached was nothing new. Education is effective only when learners truly want to learn. The four learning places of Odyssey School have different teachers and students as well as different atmospheres, but the fact that everyone is there because they sincerely want to learn is true in all the four places. The four principles of student-oriented learning are applied to the Odyssey classes: Learning across borders, Learning by doing, Learning by interaction, and Physical learning as suggested in Figure 3.