Oh my: we're in business!

Exciting things have been cooking in the last couple months. I've held back on writing about them for fear that that they'd change, but now that they've solidified (and I've regained control of my calendar), I'd like to present you with: the plan moving forward.

Wonderful Thing #1:

Lee's opening a school!

Long-time readers will recall that Lee Rottweiler is a sometime-contributor to this blog. (In fact, the whole plan to start a school came from him! He and I have been kicking around all the ideas featured on this blog for years.)

He's now living off the Eastern seaboard, on Hilton Head Island (in South Carolina and roughly between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, North Carolina), where's he's been asked to start a school.

A school of his own design.

To open in the fall.

And he's asked me to help design the curriculum.

Ladies and gentlemen: it's begun. Here's the website for the school — The Island Academy of Hilton Head.

The whole "we'll open a Seattle-area school in Fall 2017" is still very much happening — but now its design process has lurched forward! (This is very, very good for me: I'm forced to get clear on everything for our school now, so I can focus more on the nuts-and-bolts of opening our school in the upcoming year.)

Wonderful Thing #2:

To help me think through the curriculum that Lee and I are creating together, I've signed up to present our curriculum on July 2nd, at the Imaginative Education Research Group's annual conference up in Vancouver. We've titled it "A New Kind of School: Imaginative Education and Love, Mastery, and Meaning." Here's what I wrote up:

What could schooling look like, if we reimagined it from the ground up? How could love, mastery, and meaning infuse everything we do? And how could every subject be fueled by Imaginative Education?

We’re two teachers who have contemplated these questions for years, and we suddenly have the chance to bring such a school into being. This fall we’ll be opening a school on Hilton Head Island, off the coast of South Carolina — and we’d like your help in fleshing out the curriculum!

What could history look like, in such a school? Math, science, and literature? Drawing, music, and dancing? Physical education, cooking, and meditation?

This will be a venue to share your hare-brained notions and hard-won wisdom. We’ll spend some time sketching out our thinking so far, but half the workshop will be devoted to eliciting participants’ fresh educational thinking.

Come with your hopes. Leave with some bigger ones.

So now I just need to lay out all of the ideas for the school, in condensed form — and quickly!

What a wonderful situation to be in.

Wonderful Thing #3:

I need your help.

I don't advertise this blog, so if you're reading this, it means that you know me, and that I trust your educational instincts.

Over the next two weeks, I'm going to publish about 30 short descriptions of what students will actually be doing at our schools. (I'll put a hold on the more general discussions of philosophy.)

I'd love (love love) to get your radically honest feedback. I'm desirous of any feedback you want to give, but here are some especial things:

  • I'd love any ideas on what challenges you think these curricular ideas might experience. From students, from parents, from teachers! Because oh, there will be challenges! I and Lee would love to know about them before we go into it. (These might take the form "One potential challenge could be…")
  • I'd love any ideas on what opportunities you think these curricular ideas might hold. (These might take the form "This idea excites me, because…")
  • I'd love any questions you have about this. This'll be my first time publicly presenting some of these ideas, and I know I won't be as clear as I could be. (These might take the form "One thing I don't quite understand is…")
  • I'd love any advice you have on how to make these ideas better. Is there already curriculum for doing what I'll be writing about? A book I should read? Do you have a cool idea or tweak? Please, let them loose! (These might take the form "Another thing you could try is…")

Oh, and one more thing: I'm, in general, way too sensitive. (It's something I'm working on.) But in this forum, I'm not looking for pats on the head. I don't especially need to hear that these ideas are cool — believe me, I'm already convinced enough of that! If patting me on the head makes it easier for you to give more critical advice, that's perfectly fine — but don't just say nice things on my account.

All right: Look for three pieces of curriculum (programming, games, and art immersion) in the next day.

Brandon Hendrickson

Seattle, WA