Dynamically balanced education at the Blue School
WELCOMING, JOY-FULL, INNOVATIVE, FUN, EXCELLENT, A REAL SENSE OF COMMUNITY, COLLABORATIVE, CREATIVE, DYNAMIC, BALANCED, BOLD, CONFIDENT, VIBRANT, AGILE…
Some of the words that spring to mind when reflecting on the Blue School in New York. Founded by the performance art company the Blue Man Group in 2006, and located in Downtown New York over six floors, the Blue School is for children aged 2 to 13 years. Starting with a class for 2-year old’s, the school has grown a grade / year group each year.
The school is intentional about seeking to provide a dynamically balanced education; they communicate how they do so by supporting children to develop academic mastery, creative thinking and self and social intelligence.
SELECTING FROM A RANGE OF +VE INFLUENCES
The school has been influenced by various education models / philosophies, including progressive educational theory, the Reggio Approach (particularly understanding the built-environment as the ‘third teacher’), the creative process and neuroscience (specifically what science shows about how children learn best).
By listening to the ideas in the (class)room, the teachers at Blue School are highly trusted to plan engaging projects that respond to / stimulate children’s own knowledge. The environment provides the context for children to learn to explore, think, share, collaborate, participate, construct, test, etc.
The interests of students at the Blue School are dynamically balanced with the goals set by teachers. Visit https://www.blueschool.org/ for more insight.
WHAT BLUE SCHOOL PROVOKES IN THINKING ABOUT SCHOOLS IN ‘DOWNTOWN’ DURBAN
If there is a need and desire for an approach to education that dynamically supports children as they develop academic skills, alongside creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving and self-reflection skills in South Africa, then Blue School provokes and raises several questions, which fit in to three broad categories:
1. CONTEXTUALIZED APPROACH
What approaches should we be influenced by? And, how are we going to contextualise these approaches and / or integrate them in to a unique approach that is most appropriate to the context and vision for eThekwini?
2. CHILD DEVELOPMENT
How will our approach differentiate for the different developmental needs of each age group within the school, i.e. 3 to 5 year old’s and 6 to 10 year old’s?
What can / needs to be established to support educators as they plan engaging long-term projects, that respect the rights of the child? What kind of mindset, philosophy, skills will these educators need to have?