Challenging Common Assumptions
For more than 75 years most American schools have followed three standard practices that are so culturally embedded as to nearly escape question: isolate students from the adult world, separate thinking from doing, and segregate students by perceived academic ability, class, race, gender, or language ability.
Since 2000, High Tech High K-12 schools have overturned these tenets by:
- Admitting students through a lottery and grouping them heterogeneously
- Engaging students in the adult world of work through fieldwork and internships
- Integrating hands, hearts and minds through rigorous, hands-on projects
The GSE prepares educators to design and to assume leadership in programs with a parallel commitment to equity, rigor, and relevance for all students. Rather than create replicas of High Tech High, educators learning through the GSE are encouraged to use our clinical sites as a context for learning: an opportunity to take risks, reflect on practice and shape their own vision for effective teaching, learning and leadership.
Leading with Innovative Practice
The GSE emerged from, and is fully embedded within, a charter school network of innovative, project-based schools. Like the 13 High Tech High K-12 schools that serve as a context for adult learning, the GSE is committed to providing learning experiences that are personalized, authentic, and transformative. GSE students create personal learning plans, pursue a project-based curriculum, explore their own questions through rigorous inquiry, and develop digital portfolios to demonstrate their learning. They learn by doing and have ample opportunities to explore the intersection of theory and practice and reflect on their learning. Like medical students in a teaching hospital, GSE students take courses and conduct research while engaging daily in the real world of effective, innovative schools.
Designing for Social Justice
High Tech High was founded as an equity experiment in social class integration. Working to fulfill the unrealized promise of Brown v. Board of Education, declaring “separate as inherently unequal”, the High Tech High K-12 schools were designed to provide access and challenge to all students within an innovative learning environment. From instructional design to school design, HTH educators bring a critical equity lens to their work to address historical and systemic oppression affecting underserved students. Through progressive pedagogy focused on deeper learning, students have voice and choice in their learning and an authentic purpose and audience for their work. In turn, students in the GSE examine the connections between equity and design in their practice and develop effective leadership skills to support their colleagues in shaping schools that are both innovative and equitable.