Thursday, 2 October 2008
First the good news - it works. Located in a converted building on the ex-naval base - very low budget and with no hall, dining room, gym it embraced that well tested world model of agile space - with open areas, curtaining, glass and the ability to rapidly re-configure. The curriculum is the thing and again in line with many 21st century schools: project based, often mixed age, reflective, collaborative, often "elsewhere", emphatically comprehensive, problem solving focussed, with three weekly exhibition of projects and much exhibition to the community - it is no surprise to see children working everywhere - on every ledge, floor, stair and bench. Children we engaged and articulate - not always that common in US schools, sadly.
But the wonderfully agile space that many admired originally back in 2000 is now bursting with boxes as little rooms and units pop-up everywhere. The result is a mass of contrictions and restrictions - clearly what one guide described as a kind of "nostalgia-drift" - has seized the place to the extent that the elementary school built there (there are now some 6 High techs on the old naval base space) is the conventional corridors and classrooms model that the rest of the world is rushing (wisely) away from. How interesting! The children still learn enthusiastically all over the place, but to will be interesting to see if (and how) the wonderful curriculum can survive these encroaching walls...