“Teaching to the test” is a personal pet peeve of mine. From the early days of elementary school through the last days of high school, public (and to a lesser degree private) schools spend countless amounts of energy and money meeting pre-determined, governmentally prescribed standardized numbers. Kids are held hostage by the requirements; teachers and administrators are incentivized by the outcomes; ultimately, colleges make decisions based on the results. Arts and Music programs disappear, creative writing and self-expression lose favor and give way to myriad and overwhelming AP class offerings. What to do? Most parents play the game, some try to bring balanced thinking into the home, some turn to homeschooling.
BUT, if you’re fed up, AND rich and famous and just happen to be The Blue Man Group, you just start your own school and dedicate it to the principles you believe in.
The three founding members of BMG began the school in New York in 2006 as a playgroup for their children and the concept grew from there. Now The Blue School offers programs for students from 2 years through the 5th grade complete with padded foam playrooms, blacklight hallways, daily community meetings, drumbeats and curriculum based on the six “lenses” BMG used in development of its characters.
Here are a couple of gems from their “What We Value” section –
“We believe that creative expression is a basic human need and we are dedicated to connecting children with their ability to create and to express themselves. Through helping children access their innate creativity and expression, we believe they will become intrinsically motivated to learn and more fully engaged in life.
We believe that the principles of creative thinking apply to all subjects, not just the arts. We want to encourage our students to have lots of ideas and to use their imaginations, no matter what subject is being taught. We believe that children who are adept at brainstorming and creative problem solving will bring extra resourcefulness to all of their pursuits.”
Ya think? Seems obvious to me – but why is it so impossible to embrace that thinking on a large scale? Money maybe? The Blue School tuition does run upwards of $28,000/year (a number they say is right inline with other private school options in NYC). But funding notwithstanding, maybe even just a small dose of that philosophy in the public school curriculum could go a long way.
Because it is new, Blue School cannot yet tout the percentage of its graduates who go on to attend top high schools and Ivy League universities. But my suspicion is that at a minimum, Blue School Graduates will go on to see the world as more than a group of accumulated numbers.
On a related note, if you just happen to be in the city tonight and have a cool $2,500 to $25,000 to spare, stop by the School’s Fundraiser, where the three founding BMG members will reunite for the first time in 11 years (with special guest, Dave Matthews) to raise money for the school’s programs and its new permanent home. Maybe they’d offer to throw a benefit for our local high school…