Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Arriving a day early for the NAIS Conference in San Francisco, our team took the opportunity to visit the Brightworks school. Greeted by Founder and Education Architect Gever Tully who wrote the book 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do, I was immediately struck by the open layout and the sense of freedom and possibility in the school.

Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting BrightworksStudents can access tools to construct prototypes of nearly anything one can imagine. The more dangerous tools are placed higher on the wall, if only to give pause to a student before proceeding to utilize. Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting Brightworks We were given a tour by one of the older students who was working on an airplane when we arrived. There are no classrooms, only spaces. No classes nor grade levels, only ‘bands.’ Students gather in spaces to following specific learning arcs and/or their own learning passions and curiosities.Visiting Brightworks No lockers, only cubbies. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting BrightworksA stack of “Lord of the Flies” shows that classical literature has a place in every school.
Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Spotted some familiar sights like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and some unique sites (we don’t have our own school dog yet).Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks I felt right at home once the students brought out the drone. They let me try on the FPV (First Person View) goggles which puts you in the front seat of the aircraft. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks

My visit to Brightworks was both inspiring and uncomfortable. I’m so glad we had the chance to tour and learn. As someone who grew up (and taught) in fairly traditional Atlanta schools and who currently works in a school that leads in innovation, I had a lot of questions about how certain logistics worked.

Inspired by folks who are trying a different approach to educating children, I left wrestling with the healthy tension between letting curiosity (a natural motivator) drive learning v. a prescribed, strict set of require content (learning outcomes). I think there is a need (and space) for both.

What do you think? When designing a lesson, unit, classroom, school, or any learning environment, what is the best mix/balance of content and curiosity?

One thought on “Visiting Brightworks

  1. (Comment shared with permission by Michael Schultz)

    “Inspired by folks who are trying a different approach to educating children, I left wrestling with the healthy tension between letting curiosity (a natural motivator) drive learning v. a prescribed, strict set of require content (learning outcomes). I think there is a need (and space) for both.”

    I wonder whether a simple substitution of inputs for outcomes might allow the two to be held in a productive tension? If the core content serves as impetus and fuel for creative exploration, then the students emerge twice richer for having gained both knowledge and experience, It’s not dissimilar to the assertion of works as a necessary outgrowth of faith in James: knowledge that doesn’t engender new work (whether tangible or otherwise) is as stagnant as uninformed activity is wasted energy. Whether that’s an iterative or sequential process probably depends on the content, context, instructor/facilitator and students/learners.

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