Provoking Fresh Ideas…

Welcome to our brand new website! We hope you’ll join us as we create this center for learning – which includes pages for casual passersby as well as a world for members to extend their research interests and their professional connections.

Opal School is a beginning school (for children age 3-5) and public elementary charter school in Portland, Oregon. Opal School is a tiny school with a big mission: to strengthen educational opportunities by provoking fresh ideas concerning environments where creativity, curiosity, and the wonder of learning thrive. Participants in Opal School’s workshops tell us that they’re inspired by the connections they’re making – and that they’d like an ongoing platform through which to deepen their investigations. Opal School Online supports educators who are seeking new possibilities in their work. It invites new relationships between teachers as they endeavor to support the extraordinary potential they know all children possess.

“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 3rd door.” Paul, age 8

Why a third door?

Schools today face an unending list of false choices.  Standardization or autonomy?  Rigor or free play? Reading scores or recess?  Opal School Online welcomes a richer vision of high quality educational experiences for children and adults. Together, we’ll 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 Learning Community

Opal School Online members are immersed in rich documentation from Opal School classrooms – developed on an ongoing basis and culled from 14 years of experience. Contributing authors are both Opal School authors and other innovative practitioners sharing their reflections on the intersection between their deepest beliefs and what they’re doing with children.  Your ideas and questions are springboards for deeper learning for all members.  Your membership supports the staff and students of Opal School and allows us to continue providing these resources.