Opal School - and the Museum Center for Learning - exist to expand the public imagination for environments that support the wonder of learning. To do this, we start with a strong image of the child - a recognition of the tremendous capacity in this vibrant natural resource - and a broader vision of learning and cognition than what dominates today's discourse. We do our part to push at these artificially narrow limits by sharing our research and documentation with other educators through a range of efforts: This blog, workshops, publications, Opal School Online, the annual symposium, and many other projects that reach beyond the student population that attend Opal School. Last week, for example, we led a professional development workshop on Thinking Like Scientists and Mathematicians for three-dozen teachers and administrators that came from as far away as South Carolina; all this week, we're hosting a study group from Butler University's College of Education.
We're thrilled to be a partner to the A Year at Mission Hill project. A Year at Mission Hill features a series of ten video clips documenting different aspects of life at a public school in Boston. I don't see these as "answer" videos; they're not technical films telling others what to replicate; they're not "superhero teacher" films showing what happens when an unbelievably dedicated teacher sacrifices him- or her-self to serving the needs of others. Instead, (I think) they're provocations - discussion starters with which you can engage co-workers, neighbors, and family in a conversation about what are the fundamental characteristics of the schools all of our children deserve. These bite- sized videos, released every two weeks, bring up important questions: What is the purpose of public education? What is the role of children in determining curriculum? What is authentic learning?
The fourth video, Love and Limits, examines children's social and emotional needs and intelligences. This is a theme that is near and dear to our hearts at Opal School and is closely tied to next month's Sustaining Learning Communities workshop. "Love and Limits" shows how schools are built around relationships - relationships between students, between teachers and students,and hints at how these are related to the curriculum. It shows how collaboration - again, between children, teachers and children, and teachers and teachers - builds networks of understanding. It names the false choice between extending emotional capacity and "academic" skills.
Take a look at what they've posted so far. Better yet, don't watch along: start conversations with others around the series. What do you see in these clips? What does it lead you to wonder about?