The Turtle Art project, and the concept of “doing” or “making” before any explicit instruction has been given, is part of the school’s attempt to shake up its teaching. Lighthouse Community Charter has to cover the same standard curriculum as district schools, so teachers have to choose carefully the times when they’ll spend a little more time and creativity on a difficult subject.
“The concept of the coaching is that if we help someone with one or two projects, they may do more on their own.”
In Lighthouse robotics and making classes, students work on the same project for six months. They naturally encounter obstacles, develop solutions and keep working. The class also gives students some hands-on experience with concepts they’d otherwise only learn about more traditionally.
“I would much rather push for this kind of curriculum in schools serving low-income communities than in other schools because I think it will help students to gain their own voice, and a lot of the kind of character-building aspects that are intrinsic in this, but also to be exposed to new possibilities for the future,” Vanderwerff said.