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Square Block

posted Oct 13, 2011, 9:05 PM by Scott Bickmore   [ updated Jan 25, 2012, 8:40 PM ]
Square Block: Educating Without Walls

DESCRIPTION: Take a square block of a neighborhood and designate it as an education area, a school without walls. Enlist its residents and resources in collaboration with experts/academia. Develop block specific curriculum. (EXAMPLE #1: Neighborhood resident, Chris Rys sketching in moleskin "don't tread on me (rattlesnake)," one of the first designs for the American Flag; Chris teams up with PhD Historian, who helps develop structured curriculum incorporating contextual and critical analysis of content. They hold class once a week for a month within square block radius: on a bench, in someone's house, at a coffee shop, etc. Class culminates in Mural in neighborhood. Opening includes Historian talk, story of content, class, and neighborhood. EXAMPLE #2: Mechanic with shop, Tony, teams up with Drexel Engineer to restore car with Eco-Friendly features. Students learn practical mechanical knowledge for trade and for science bound academia. EXAMPLE #3: Neighbor has lived there for 30 years and has all the stories. He works with a Penn professor on curriculum, structuring and incorporating critical and contextual analysis of content, while preserving authenticity. They hold class on a bench with nice weather; otherwise in someone's house or coffee shop. EXAMPLE #4: Street Basketball players teaming up with player from 76s on how to turn into a career: Step-by-step on being a coach, playing college ball, professional ball, leading youth summer programs, etc.)
MISSION: Offer cheap, practical and empowering alternative educational framework. Minimize and rethink education overhead. Replace normal costs of education with the resources of community initiative and engagement. Develop model/template so others can start their own Square Block School--Square Block Schools starting up concurrently across the city, interacting, being a resource and referral with site specific attributes and programs. Mentorship. Encourage students to branch out content, and develop own classes. Make easy. Start with short workshop. Empower as "teacher." Best way to learn is to teach. Quicker cycle, model on Occupy Philly (i.e. Marshall was trained for 5min, then addressed a crowd of 700 as a "Facilitator"). Develop comfort with leadership. Anyone can teach. Anyone can learn. Provide an easy/low-cost forum for intimate and goal directed education.
VISION/CONCEPT: A school without walls. Low/no cost like web. Intimacy of in-person. Combining practical/authentic community content with experts/academia/structure. Goal: Improving community outlook and activity with career directed and cutting edge education. 
DOING: Online scheduling. Active like "Netflix" (i.e. no classes scheduled, no big deal. Hiatus until initiate new class. Classes can range in duration, size and scope depending on initiator/instructor/demand. No maintenance cost so flexible scheduling possible. Demand, initiative and practical need dictates school activity.
WEBSITE: squareblock.org

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