Hidden behind the unremarkable frontage of a low-rise warehouse in the Mission district of San Francisco is one of the most innovative education experiments in the US. Now in its seventh year, Brightworks is turning education on its head with an approach that makes the pupil entirely responsible for shaping their own learning experience. A private school for children of all ages, Brightworks is unusual in that there are no exams, no testing or SATs, no formal curriculum, no learning objectives and no teachers, only “collaborators”. Children come to school to work on projects they devise entirely by themselves — often using power tools, drills, hammers and saws. Whether inside, creating extraordinary large-scale metal works, or outside on field trips around the Bay Area and beyond, the emphasis is on playful stress-free learning.
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