Alternative-education high schools in the Western US?
April 17, 2006 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Do you know of any really neat alternative high schools in the Western United States? What's so neat about them? What ideas from them can I cheerfully steal and use in my own teaching?

I've been given the astonishing chance to take an extended sabbatical next (school) year away from my current job teaching high school physics. I'm interested in investigating a variety of alternative education practices, but primarily project-based education and experiential education. Basically, I'm looking for ways to channel students' existing interests and get them to take more ownership in learning and research and for ways to shift, if only subtly, the focus from me teaching to them learning. If that makes any sense.

I know I'm interested in the "expeditionary learning" model of the new Outward Bound schools, the general model of the Exploratorium and the Teton Science School's Journeys School. I'm also interested in the ideas behind the "democractic" Sudbury Valley Schools, but [1] most that I've seen online are very small and I'm not sure how well the ideas would translate back to our larger school and [2] as much freedom I have with my curriculum, it doesnt go that far...

While I'm already contemplating more things than I might have time to do, do you know of any "alternative" education practices in high schools that would be really valuable to visit? What makes it so valuable?

In person, I can probably get to most places from the Rockies to the West Coast; I have no plans to travel farther east. Bonus points if they might let me work there/volunteer for, say, a week. Super-extra bonus points if they have even marginal support possible for such activities.

Alternately, where else should I be posting this question?
posted by mhespenheide to Education (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
High Tech High is one of the coolest schools I have ever seen and is in San Diego. No books whatsoever, the kids are designing robotics, they have a great university enrollment rate, etc. If I had been a science-oriented person, I would have died to have gone to this school.
posted by meerkatty at 6:14 AM on April 18, 2006

Kevin Johnson's St. Hope is a possibility.

Also, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation might have some ideas for you.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2006

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