Author: Susan Harris MacKay

Sep
28

Looking for Invention

With generous funding from The Lemelson Foundation, Opal School is embarking on an exciting journey this fall to research Invention Education alongside our friends and colleagues at Project Zero of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ben Mardell and Mara Krechevsky. The task in front of us right now is to frame our research questions. […]

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Sep
19

Engaging Families as Partners

This past week, we welcomed families to Opal School for its 17th year. And, as is true so often, we also welcomed change. For new families, the change is transition to this new community, transition in families as their children grow, new routines, new relationships. For returning families, the change is a bump in expectations. […]

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Sep
08

Setting Expectations

As I stepped into the first Day of school in our Cottonwood classroom (children ages 5-7 years), Lauren was just introducing a surprising material to the children, who sat expectantly hoping for their own opportunity to play. It was just masking tape. But it clearly held a kind of excitement as far as the children […]

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Mar
31

Materials as Metaphors

My recent post, Say What You Mean, began as this post — but I got so tangled up in thinking about the relationship between knowledge and meaning and learning and relationship and power and vulnerability that I realized I’d better split these posts in two. In this post, I’ll share the experience I had recently […]
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Mar
31

Say What you Mean

We’ve been infected with this kind of pathological impatience that makes us want to have the knowledge but not do the work of claiming it. I mean, the true material of knowledge is meaning. … And the only way to glean knowledge is contemplation. And the road to that is time. There’s nothing else. It’s […]

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Mar
02

Constructing Identity

Because it’s Opal 4, we knew we would deeply explore the complexities of perspective this year. Because it was a presidential election year, we knew we would be thinking together about the issues and the process. Because 4th and 5th graders have a right to know their state’s history, we knew we would focus on […]

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Feb
26

Dear Future School

It’s that time of year when our oldest students start seriously thinking about the schools they’ll go to next. These transitions are always bittersweet. It’s so hard to go, and at the same time, everyone is eager to know what’s in store. We always wonder what the children will take with them into the world. And […]

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Dec
08

Is it playful inquiry?

Matt and I have been puzzling over this photo this week. Is this moment of questions posed and children deep into their research and writing representative of playful inquiry? Delight isn’t a quality that immediately jumps to mind. But joy? Perhaps. Play is not the opposite of work. There is joy in work. Especially as […]

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Nov
04

Being Safe to Risk

What lives between the comfort zone and the danger zone? It’s a place where you feel safe to risk. It’s the zone we work to stay in at Opal School. It’s the zone we believe that Vea Vecchi might call the Aesthetic Dimension. The place that Elizabeth Gilbert might say is where you find what […]

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Sep
19

Public Gardens

As a big fan of the work of both Alison Gopnik and Peter Gray, a post written recently by the latter about a new book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, by the former, got me thinking. In summarizing some of Gopnik’s main points Gray writes: We adults can help them best not by teaching, but by […]

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