Guest post by Josh Densen, Bricolage Academy
I can’t wait for Maker Faire, the two-day festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness planned that starts today in San Mateo, California. It’s a little strange that someone trying to start a new charter school in New Orleans would spend the time travelling halfway across the country to the world’s coolest show and tell exposition. But in many ways, I doubt there is anything else I can do to better prepare me for leading Bricolage Academy, the proposed charter school I plan to start in 2013.
I have spent most of the last thirteen years working in urban public education. I started as a special education teacher in Oakland, California, later taught at a charter school in Harlem, and most recently led the local office of a national education non-profit in New Orleans. Still, I think a lot about the schools I would want for my own children and I find myself still searching.
The question now guiding me as an aspiring school founder is “How might we design a school that prepares children for the world 20 years from now?”
What would happen if we built a school that goes beyond the acquisition of knowledge all schools should provide? What if every student experienced an ongoing entrepreneurial and creative journey? And best of all, what if this was all done not after school, or during a special elective, but instead could be felt throughout the entire academic experience for every student?
That’s what brings me, a school founder who has never built a robot, hacked a computer, or designed jewelry to San Mateo fairgrounds this weekend.
My hunch is that, in twenty years, creativity and innovation will be essential. At Maker Faire, I’ll be searching for clues and insights about what we’re missing in our current antiquated classrooms. I’m excited to see how what a tinkerer built in their spare time can help us rethink education. What did they learn? Where did they fail? What lessons will they apply to their next challenge?
People often ask me what the ‘theme’ of Bricolage is. In my mind, school themes are often oversimplifications that allow people ease with categorizing, but reveal little about the school or its actual program: think “Arts-focused” or “Blended Learning” or “STEM.”
In response, I usually say that we don’t really have a theme, but that I want Bricolage to be a “school for makers,” then explain the maker movement as a great intersection between art, design, technology, engineering and creativity. Sounds like a school every child deserves, and definitely one that I want for my own kids.
If you want to keep up with an innocent abroad at Maker Faire, follow the school on twitter at @BricolageAcdmy.