Week 25 in Review: What does a learner led environment look like?


Play is the great equalizer.

being learner driven is messy, but worth it.

Elementary Update

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~Mr. Rogers

One of the most beautiful experiences of childhood is play. Play is the great equalizer among groups of children that would otherwise be separated by language, ability, grade, or economic status.

Yesterday evening, our ES heroes were gifted a rich learning opportunity. We traveled to Brookhaven, to visit an after school program called PresenciaPresencia exists to serve the immigrant community of children in their neighborhood. Their mentors tutor, give homework guidance, English learning support, healthy snacks, a safe place to play and a community of belonging. We had one goal for our visit: to break down preconceived notions and build big empathy muscles through play. And that’s just what our heroes did. Foursquare, chalk art, tag and playground escapades between our learners and theirs. Our learners shared snacks and laughter and walked away ready to embrace “learning to live together” with renewed enthusiasm and understanding. Play really is serious learning.


Middle School Update

What does a learner led environment look like?

This week saw the swearing in of a new Studio Council. Three Heroes, elected from among their peers, immediately jumped into ways to improve Studio culture and systems.

Among the changes:

  1. A more robust Badge approval process (with consequences for having your badge work denied or approving of someone's work that is later denied by the Guide).

  2. Tougher penalties for Contract violations that fall under the category of "disrespect" (rude words, acts of unkindness, etc).

  3. The instillation of an Excellence Committee, to weekly audit Hero work.

  4. Modifying a rule that dictates where Heroes can eat lunch, so as to help with Studio Maintenance.

  5. And a promise to thoroughly investigate Honor Code violations and to give immediate consequences.

  6. All of this happened without adult input or intervention.

Life in a learner driven environment has its challenges and can be messy, but it also allows young people a chance to cultivate a fair, efficient, and excellent society.

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Tyler Thigpen