A CREATIVE APPROACH
By balancing academic mastery, creative thinking and self and social intelligence – while instilling a lifelong passion for learning – Blue School has earned an esteemed position within New York City’s independent schools. It is reimagining education by pairing traditional best practices from educational research with the latest in child development and neuroscience. With an advisory board comprising education experts, neuroscientists and creative practitioners such as Sir Ken Robinson, Dr Dan Siegel and David Rockwell, among others, Blue School is listed as one of “The 13 Most Innovative Schools in the World” by Business Insider, and one of the six most innovative global schools by Wired magazine.
“In a city full of great schools that have been around for more than a century, Blue School distinguishes itself by engaging students in ‘real-world studies’ through inquiry, so learning is relevant,” says its Director of Admissions Dawn Williams. “Blue School isn’t looking to reinvent wheels that are working, but it also doesn’t feel stuck in a ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ rut. Every course, every space, every ritual is an opportunity to build, reflect and iterate.”
From stage to school
Blue School was founded in 2006 by six artists and academics, including the original founders of Blue Man Group, a globally acclaimed entertainment company. It set out to create a dynamic academic process adapted to the needs of children growing up
in today’s world. “Blue School has become a kind of national laboratory for integrating cognitive neuroscience and cutting-edge educational theory into curriculum, professional development and school design,” according to The New York Times.
Compassion, joy and creativity are valued here as part of an education model that is designed to inspire curiosity and nurture self-development. “At Blue School, we believe that academic mastery and academic enchantment are both essential, interdependent attributes of a truly exceptional education,” says Williams. “Teachers work to balance these essential aspects in each content area in engaging and developmentally appropriate ways.”
Situated in Lower Manhattan, Blue School accepts children from the age of two through to 8th grade, offering a broad curriculum that challenges students. “Here, what parents seek as ‘extracurricular’ opportunities are actually curricular,” says Williams. Diverse classroom project work is extended through careful planning and integration with movement, drama, music and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) teachers. Regular class trips and access to professional experts provide ample opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, enhancing lessons with real-world experiences.
A passion for knowledge
Middle school students are invested in a “Ways of Thinking” frame, which encourages them to vet and research sources carefully, explore and hold multiple perspectives, and incorporate feedback as they undertake a rich academic course load. “We seek curious, self-reflective students who are able to ‘be at the table’ in their learning,” says Williams. “Blue School students appreciate the profoundly close and inclusive community, committed teachers and a type of work that matters and is rooted in real-world problems.”
The success of this emphasis on relevant and generation-appropriate education has already proved popular in Manhattan’s competitive private education sector. Blue School’s recent expansion incorporates an additional 48,000 sq ft building nearby, generating more space for the upper grades and lower grades, complete with a library, gym, a STEAM lab, theatre and other facilities.
With a curriculum built around inquiry, observation and reflection, Blue School is designed to help children become the bold, creative and compassionate innovators that our collective future requires in order to build a harmonious and sustainable world.