The thought that keeps running through my head, “I can’t believe this season is ending.” Not only is this 20 week open source learning studio of set class hours blocked as winter and spring courses ending, but our entire third year is ending. It is strange to imagine exploring these concepts without the familiar 18 faces around me all the time. Reflecting on our time together, there were most definitely challenges faced. Most of the challenges proved conceptual. One particularly difficult concept for me to grasp was this cluster. What is the cluster exactly?! Why 150 people?! Where are the history and math classes taught?! It was and still is a stretch for me to conceive of a system where students would absorb all of the fundamentals of high school education in a realm where you are encouraged to invest in whatever you want. When OSL was first described, I pictured students being phenomenal underwater basket weavers but lacking in basic math, history, and english skills by the time they graduate. I am still not exactly sure how these guide teachers would be able to teach/lead these high school students through all the basics and give them freedom to pursue what they want.
One of the conversations that my partner for spring quarter and I discussed was this notion of input and output. After interviewing a graduate from High Tech High, it seemed that she was given tons of freedom within her projects to explore what she wanted to focus on but she did not graduating knowing the quantity the facts that a traditional high schooler would. For her, the project based learning system equipped her with skills of how to solve problems, manage time, research, and network with people but the sheer quantity of understanding of facts about specifics of anatomy, biology, advanced algebra, the Civil War, etc was lacking. What both my partner and I valued from a traditional high school experience was the vast input that we received from the six 50 minute periods of segmented subject learning. I think the output of learning will be greater if the input is greater, if you can pull from many facets of life, subjects, and experiences.
Something that was frustratingly ambiguous and out of our hands for the most part was scheduling and administration. Based on my experience of both High Tech High and e-3 Civic High, administration and how the class is facilitated makes a HUGE difference! While e-3 Civic felt far more designed, High Tech High felt closer to open source. This proved an interested irony as the place less “designed” for such use (High Tech High) felt far more alive than the manicured e-3 Civic where rules seemed to restrict the atmosphere. e-3 Civic v High Tech High
A few times, reviewers asked how an average day would function in terms of class hours, periods, rotation of teachers, etc and I had no idea what to tell them. It was difficult to take a spatial stance but not a curriculum or scheduling one. (Obviously, we had to take somewhat of a curriculum stance on how we organized the interest groups and classrooms, but still, you know what I mean.) Because we are proposing something different than the existing high school mold, I wanted to propose a complete packaged functioning system. BUT I’m only an architecture student, not a formal teacher with years of experience or a principal who has an idea of what works and what doesn’t for orchestrating so many moving parts. I think my voice matters and has value, but there MUST be other voices of expertise that would be contributing to this system, beyond a spatially thinking mind. I found it difficult to work with pieces of the puzzle knowing that some of the other integral pieces are outside of my sphere of influence. I can design this incredible open source learning academy and it could be built and the people could move in and at the end of the day, it’s still in the hands of the occupiers as to how the building will be used.
For a while, it was strange to consider what type of students would be in this high school. Questions I had and still have are how this system helps all students. What about the kids who are generally unmotivated? I easily see the overachieving, motivated students excelling and thriving in this project based learning system but what about the average to low motivated high schooler? I still don’t know. I chose to design for the motivated but I’m not sure how the kids who aren’t the overachievers would thrive unless they became passionate about something.
Everything seemed to tie back to “How is this a spatial question?”