There is growing concern about the impact traditional education has on our children. In today’s post, Andrew explains that there’s a rising tide of educators around the country that are leading amazing new schools. The Workshop connects and collaborates with these schools towards best practice and common, shared values.
There are amazing people in our public schools. They’ve been our teachers, our friends and mentors, our supervisors and colleagues. Educators who wake up every morning determined to improve the world. And we’re public school educators, too! Our team has more than 50 years of successful service in diverse NYC public schools. We believe in the mission and purpose of public school education to better the lives of every child in every community.
But we’re also increasingly concerned that many NYC public schools limit student learning. An emphasis on high-stakes standardized exams dramatically narrows classroom instruction and actually lowers expectations for student achievement. Sir Ken Robinson explains, “The dominant forms of education actively stifle the conditions that are essential to creative development.”
We started to wonder: what if middle school were different?
During the past year, I’ve traveled around the country to meet and speak with innovative school founders and leaders. There’s a rising tide of innovation and invention in education, and I’ve learned from some of the most amazing minds, including Jason Pittman, founding principal at Khan Lab School; Rhonda Perry, award-winning school principal at Salk Middle School; and Larry Rosenstock and the incredible team at High Tech High. And we’ve developed our school model with personal feedback from pioneers in maker education, including Gever Tulley and Mackenzie Price, founders at Brightworks in San Francisco; Brian Cohen, founder and Director at Beam Center in Brooklyn; and Nancy Otero, Director of Curriculum at Portfolio School in Lower Manhattan.
The Workshop is part of a growing collective working to transform how we think about school. Innovations include microschools, or very small schools, that personalize learning to match students interests and needs. And makerschools, hands-on project-based learning schools where students research, design, and build thrillingly large projects in the real world. And progressive community schools committed to diversity, equity, and social justice because we believe our schools can move society.
Yes, The Workshop is, well, a little bit different. But maybe you are, too?