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what makes for great learning experiences?

Every school has an educational philosophy, or set of beliefs about how teaching and learning should happen. These beliefs provide the principles that guide the educational direction of the school.  


​Imagine what the ideal school might look like. Think about everything you have ever liked or disliked about school and your education and imagine what made it great or how it could be different.  What should school look like?
Learn about some different approaches to education, then craft your own educational philosophy.  


Explore some philosophical approaches to teaching and learning. Think about how to make school relevant, engaging, authentic and ethical.

Project-Based Learning
Edutopia: Project-Based Learning
Project-Based Learning at High Tech High, San Diego, CA
High Tech High, San Diego, CA
Essential Learning at Hip Hop High, Minneapolis, Minnesota
High School for the Recording Arts, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Mobile Learning Institute at National Portrait Gallery
Brightworks School, San Francisco, California
Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland, California
Realm Charter School, Berkeley, California
AltSchool, San Francisco, New York, Chicago
Blue School, New York City
James Dyson Foundation

Game-Based Learning
Jane McGonigal. Gaming Can Make A Better World, TED Talks
James Paul Gee. Video Games, Learning and Literacy; Learning With Games
Katie Salen, Learning with Games​
Quest to Learn, NYC
Institute of Play

Democratic/Free Schooling
David Gribble
Summerhill School, Suffolk, England
Sudbury Valley School, Framingham, Massachusetts
Real Education: Varieties of Freedom by David Gribble
Summerhill by A.S. Neill
Chris Mercogliano, The Self-Organizing Child, TED Talks
Seth Godin, Stop Stealing Dreams, TED Talks
Brooklyn Free School, Brooklyn, New York
Albany Free School, Albany New York
Village Free School, Portland, Oregon
​Brooklyn Free School on This American Life

Sustainability-Minded Schools
Sustainable Schools Project, Shelburne, Vermont
The Putney School, Putney, Vermont
Putney students: Why we chose Putney
The Northwest School, Seattle
Green School, Bali
John Hardy: My Green School Dream
David Suzuki: Connecting with Nature



Your philosophy outlines the specifics of your school, including exactly how you will educate the students who attend. Think about how to best convey this in your philosophy. What will make your school great? And why?


In your philosophy, explore five different aspects of your educational beliefs, and address them in five separate paragraphs.  Your focus for each paragraph is outlined below.
Paragraph 1:
As you design and plan your school, what are your overall goals for students?  Why are you creating a school that functions like yours does?
Paragraph 2:
Consider your student population.  Who is served by your school?  Is it a public, charter or private school?  Describe the admissions process (how do students get admitted to your school?).  What kinds of students are best served by your school?
Paragraph 3: 
Describe your school's campus.  Where is your school?  What building(s) does it encompass?  How does your school's design help you to meet your overall goals and ideals?  
Paragraph 4: 
What will your school teach students?  How will they learn this information?  What kinds of approaches will your teachers/school take in teaching/communicating this to your students?
Paragraph 5:
How will you know if your school is doing an effective job at teaching its students?  What will you do if students are not doing well?  What will you do if students already know the information presented?  How will you help them grow as learners and as people?


When your philosophy is just as you want it, display it on your school's website. Consider principles of web design. Take inspiration from great school websites you've observed during the process.

“Education has very little to do with explanation, it has to do with engagement, with falling in love with the material." 


-Seymour Papert

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