At Bramblewood Academy, we honor the individual through inquiry-based, often student-led learning that allows children to access the learning that they want and need, at their own pace. Adults act as mentors, helping students find and work towards their own goals.
While we support the individuality of each student, we also operate in communities where there is a give-and-take between individual needs and the needs of a group. At Bramblewood we emphasize cooperation, respect, and open-mindedness, and explicitly teach teamwork skills like giving and receiving feedback, making decisions in a group, communication, and project-planning.
We recognize our impact & reliance on the world around us, both environmental and relational. At Bramblewood we strive to make learning authentic to the world, do real work, and solve real problems. Through this, students learn about the world around them and their place in it, and become constructive members of society from a young age.
INDEPENDENT GROWTH TIME
Opportunity for exploration and personal growth. Each week students get time to pursue projects of their own choice. Mentors provide assistance or inspiration (in the form of materials or invitations), and may be working on their own personal projects, as well. Some things children have done in small groups or independently include felting, resin-casting, coding, making a movie, D&D club, soccer, and foraging for mushrooms. This allows students time to explore subjects and skills that interest them in a supportive environment, with peers and adults and is a major highlight for the students!
Learning by deep and respectful discourse. At least once a week, mentors lead Socratic discussions where students wrestle together with texts and concepts in a way that promotes deep critical thought and learning. These discussions are age-appropriate and designed to build skills of listening, thinking, and sharing at every age (younger classes may discuss a picture book while an older class tackles a great speech or poem, for example). Besides our official Socratic discussions, we have many other opportunities to learn from discussion, whether it is forming or revisiting class norms, having character discussions based on our values, or solving a problem that has arisen.
AUTHENTIC, REAL-WORLD PROJECTS
Long-term projects that are authentic to students and the world. Each semester, classes dive into at least one long-term project. Typically one will be history-focused, another science-focused, and a shorter one will be based on the arts, however many touch on a number of subjects. These interdisciplinary projects often have a real-world component. We believe children are capable of doing real work, and it is much more motivating to write well, for example, if you are writing an email or a proposal that will be seen by a city councilman than simply doing a pretend exercise in class. If we are studying science, we do the work of scientists. Or journalists. Or artists. These projects are often designed in partnership between students and mentors. Some examples of past projects include
Designing and prototyping a treehouse for Bramblewood
Creating cell model manipulatives for a public middle school classroom
Making a podcast exploring world religions
Performing an original Shakespeare adaptation
Designing a civilization
Building a bug hibernation house