The Bridge 2.4
I am a day late with this issue of The Bridge because I was out of town and had the opportunity to spend some time at High Mowing School, https://www.highmowing.org/. High Mowing is a private Waldorf High School in Wilton, New Hampshire. The majority of their students board on their 300 acre campus:
City of Bridges is not a Waldorf high school, but it draws from many Progressive education traditions including Waldorf education. When I was at High Mowing, I had a conversation with a number of teachers about Waldorf schools in the spectrum of Progressive education. It was a great connection to the topic that I wanted to dig into for The Bridge this week.
Progressive Education is many things and it is present in schools in a myriad of ways depending on the philosophy of the school and the interests and needs of the students. Tom Little, former Head of School at Park Day School, spent a year visiting Progressive schools across the country and created a framework with 6 core strategies which he describes at length in the book, Loving Learning, http://lovinglearningthebook.com. These strategies are will all be present at City of Bridges, so I suppose we are a Progressive school.
Attention to children’s emotions as well as their intellects.
The support and development of the whole person is central to our work at City of Bridges. If we are going to envision a more just, peaceful and joyful future our students need knowledge and skills, but they also need the practical wisdom and self-efficacy to be able to bring their dreams to fruition. There are many great organizations that use the tagline, Head, Heart and Hands, and City of Bridges can easily join that club.
Reliance on student’s interests to guide their learning.
Student interest is at the core of the City of Bridges pedagogy. Following our passions and discovering ways to bring our passions into practice is one of the most effective ways not only to learn, but also to do meaningful work. Students at City of Bridges will have the opportunity to follow their passions with guidance and support, but also the freedom to explore, design, reflect, revise and redesign.
Curtailment of or outright bans on testing, grading and ranking.
Testing, grading and ranking often serve to stop learning instead of encouraging it. The most effective way to continue to grow and learn is to reflect on your work, receive focused feedback and then revise your work to continually improve. City of Bridges is focused on real-work learning, which doesn’t begin or end with a grade, but instead a clear set of outcomes that guide the entire process.
Involvement of students in real world endeavors.
Real-World and Real-Work are central components of the City of Bridges model. High school should prepare young people to be active and competent members of society through experiences that build their capacity to do actual work in actual communities.
Study of topics in an integrated way, from a variety of different disciplines.
Topics don’t exist in isolation in our lived experience in the world and they must also not exist in isolation in school. The world is a complicated and uncertain place, and understanding the interrelationships between topics allows us to bring greater clarity to our understanding of the world.
Support for children to develop a sense of social justice and become active participants in American Democracy.
Social Justice is at the core of the City of Bridges mission. We can’t just hope for a more just future, we need to actively strive to bring about systemic change that supports justice, agency and opportunity for everyone. This commitment to social justice is manifested in many ways at City of Bridges, in our curriculum, in our community engagement, in our participatory community and in the importance of student voice in our design and operation.
That leads to a request for future students and families. We need to hear your voices as part of the design process. We are beginning to hold focus groups for both young people and their parents. These focus groups will be design sessions where we collaboratively create this school together.
As we plan and schedule these groups, we need to know who is interested. We have created an online form where you can provide your name, how best to get in touch with you, what grade you or your child will be in during our opening year, and general times that are best for you to get together. Please follow this link to be a part of these conversations.
As always if you have questions or something to share, reach out firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and Be Well,