Strengthening education by provoking fresh ideas concerning environments where creativity, curiosity and the wonder of learning thrive.
“It’s like there’s two doors and they both lead to hallways and one has treasure in it and that’s good for you and only you. The other hallway has people who are stuck in it and they can’t get out but if you let them out they’ll be free. But you can only open one door. So the empathic decision would be to find a third door. ”
Schools today face an unending list of false choices. Standardization or autonomy? Rigor or free play? Reading scores or recess? For over 20 years, adults and children at Opal School explored a richer vision of high quality educational experiences. 8-year-old Paul reminds us that third doors are always possible, and together we can find them. These resources at opalschool.org were designed to explore vital themes:
- How can schools support empathy and agency?
- What is the relationship between literacy and the arts?
- How might a pedagogy of playful inquiry draw on children’s natural learning strategies?
- What is the difference between being in charge and being in control?
- How can we better understand the habits of heart and mind that inspire young learners?
- How can the tools of the arts create conditions where children develop complex ideas?
- What happens when we hold a strong image of all children?
A great idea that took children, parents and educators on an inspiring journey for 20 years, exploring great ideas through the languages of the arts and sciences. Opal School closed in June of 2021 with Portland Children’s Museum, casualties of the pandemic, leaving us with a rich legacy of teacher research.
opalschool.org remains accessible! The site is intact and available for teacher research as a trove of information, provocation and inspiration, at no cost to educators, preschool through grade 5.
One of Opal’s thought partners, Teaching Preschool Partners is creating a resource library that will include highlights of Opal’s research and practice with the assistance of a generous grant from the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation.
In addition to Opal highlights, the resource library includes stories and tools from TPP’s experiences in the field and invites new voices to share experiences in living with today’s education challenges and possibilities.