After watching Gever Tully’s TED Talk about the Tinkering School, I wanted Joshua to try it out but we weren’t able to get into the one in San Francisco because enrollment is for a series of sessions and no drop-ins. So I have been looking forward to the one in New York offered by the Brooklyn Apple Academy because it’s open to homeschoolers and it’s okay to take one class at a time.
Noah Mayer, founder of the Brooklyn Apple did a podcast about wanting to start a microschool and Gever Tully himself got in touch with him and helped him do just that. Now, the Brooklyn Apple is on its fifth year of operation and third year as a homeschool resource center. It started as a one-room schoolhouse with six students. Noah found that he was not as adept at administrative and bookkeeping matters so he partnered with Cottage Class which is a network for microschools that help them with that side of the equation.
All over the world, teachers are reinventing education by starting independent schools, camps, classes and study groups to meet the needs of the children in their communities. CottageClass is a community marketplace that connects families with these teacher-founders who are transforming our world.
The goal of CottageClass is to help all children reach their greatest potential through individualized instruction.
An average of eight children drop in the Brooklyn Apple every day. Aside from four days of Tinkering, they have field trips on Wednesday, Minecraft meet-ups on Fridays and other activities from arts and crafts and stop motion animation and a whole lot of play determined and directed by the kids themselves with teachers there for support and guidance.
The workshop room is a dream come true for tinkerers who can pick up odds and ends and initiate a project, use the drill and other equipment but as Lyman Rhodes reminds, safety is always paramount. Joshua doesn’t gravitate towards the workroom but ends up making buttons in the crafts room and chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. That’s the beauty of self-directed learning. As his parent, I thought he’d tinker with the machines but instead, he excitedly shows me step by step how he made pins by cut-stamping out a comic book page and producing a button. Lyman tells me that these cool buttons are sometimes sold by the kids in the bustling, commercial 5th Avenue right outside their building where pedestrians end up supporting the kids’ enterprise.
On the walls of the bathroom, one poster said “Livelyhood without slavery to the money economy.” The deliberate misspelling points to the sad state of some forms of livelihood that suck the life out of a person, making it all about work for the sake of money rather than for the joy and love of doing the work. In this age, it puzzles many people when some opt out of the system or refuse to join the rat race but the ones who do that see the world from a different perspective. The teachers who start and run the microschools also view from an uncommon vantage point so they’d like to offer an alternative to the current education system. They want to be able to listen better to each child, one child at a time. They don’t want education to be about grades, test scores and outperforming each other. They want to give back to childhood what childhood is losing.
Other posts about the Brooklyn Apple:
And if you just want to know more about microschools: