Seattle school embraces experiential education over traditional classroom lessons

The Downtown School, located in Seattle and currently in its first year, offers an experiential approach to learning — instead of just sitting in a classroom, the school aims to help students learn by doing, The 74 reports.The school enrolls 45 freshmen and sophomores who, in addition to listening to guest speakers tie their classroom lessons to the real world, get to explore the community for themselves by visiting businesses, museums and community art exhibits. Juniors and seniors, meanwhile, have local, partial-day internships.Teachers' roles are also somewhat untraditional, with the staff comprised of the head of school and five teachers — who are also administrators, The 74 notes. And teachers' classroom instruction and lessons plans, in some part, depend on student feedback. The Downtown School is just one example of less conventional approaches schools are taking when it comes to learning, as well as a newer take on private schools in particular. The Seattle school sits in a highly walkable, arguably safe neighborhood surrounded by biotech startups and research centers — both of which can provide lots of experiential learning opportunities. However, while most schools don’t sit in the middle of an experiential education opportunity zone, there are plenty of ways districts can still create similar opportunities for their own students. The most important takeaway isn't where the experience may be, but that students are ultimately learning in ways other than listening to a lecture.

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