Flex Arts, Crafts and Sciences

fiber-arts flexSchool groupEven though FlexSchool’s spring recess began on March 25th, a few students and teachers were on hand for our newly formed Fiber Arts Club.  Several of our students have a passion for knitting and one is particularly talented in felting.  Check out the red panda she made and see the pictures from our first meeting.  One of our club’s goals is to knit, crochet, or felt one project per member to donate to charities that help children get clothes and toys.

Protein Data Bank special exhibit-FlexSchoolSince this past week, FlexSchool has been hosting and displaying the RCSB Protein Data Bank’s “Art of Science” exhibit.  Students were given calendars, fake tattoos, and reference sheets with beautiful 3-D images of molecules and viruses. During our open house, parents and students walked around FlexSchool and viewed the large posters on display in our classrooms.  In a few weeks, we will be travelling to Columbia University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology where we will learn about some of the viruses that have been on display!  At FlexSchool, we learn about traditional subjects in non-traditional ways.

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we focus on academics with the long-view in mind. Visit https://flexschool.net.

FlexSchool Weaves a Tale

flexFriday storyteller flexEducation

Storytelling was the theme of today’s FlexFriday workshop.  Paula Davidoff, an educator, storyteller, musician, and more, came to discuss mythology, fairy tales, and folktales.  She opened the session by talking about mythology and religion and how ancient Greece and Rome likely converted localized religions into others.  She talked about how Disney princesses labelled as heroines, are often not really strong in their own right.  And then she told us a story about High John the Conqueror in African folklore who made a deal with the devil and the devil’s daughter. The strong male protagonist was actually saved by the devil’s daughter and her defiance of her father, not a typical plot line in most fairy tales. Paula’s animated storytelling brought the students into her tales.

Next Paula relayed Grimms’ Fairy Tale of “The Goose-Girl,” a “grim” story about a princess, a false princess, and the talking horse Falada.  We learned about the traditional roles of queens and kings in stories and how the elements such as wind and water can take on important characters’ roles.  In this tale, the true princess was forced to take the role of her servant and the resulting false princess tricked a kingdom into thinking she was the rightful betrothed.  We learned about the symbolic representation of hair in stories, and how there is usually a token or a charm that is meant as protection, but how that can be lost.

After the students listened to this “happily ever after” tale, we workshopped it.  We talked about how the princess and the false princess/maidservant contrasted each other, but how they were ultimately parts of the same psyche.  The students physically acted out specific characters they chose.  Some students played the headless horse Falada, while others represented the wind or water.  Students had to become these characters and then be interviewed as them.  The other students asked questions of each character and we learned about their backstories, inner workings, and motives.  We are off next week for spring recess, and when we return, we’ll be taking a trip to Rutgers University’s Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick.  Learn more about how FlexSchool incorporates experiential learning with traditional academics, and how our small school setting engages a variety of divergent thinkers through nontraditional means, such as storytelling.

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we focus on academics with the long-view in mind. Visit https://flexschool.net.

Learning from Malala

malala yousafzai flexschool education

Today we talked about the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai.  We learned about how she spoke up against the Taliban in Pakistan and, as a result, was shot in the head when she was 14.  We watched a brief clip of an interview she had with The Daily Show’s former host, Jon Stewart, and saw how she can quickly and deftly answer interview questions.  Her presence and voice are commanding and her humility is inspiring.  After we watched the clip, we watched the documentary He Named Me Malala based on her book, I am Malala.

Malala straddles two worlds: that of a normal high school teenage experience and that of a world-renowned speaker, Nobel Prize winner, and celebrity in her own right.  Malala has made appearances on many shows including Ellen and The Daily Show, and has met the Queen of England.  She gave one of her most famous talks to the United Nations, where she memorably stated, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”  We observed how she has continued championing the rights of uneducated girls and boys throughout the world.  She has met with the parents of the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.  She has talked with Syrian refugee children who have had to abandon their homes and schools and are now in camps without access to education.  She has spoken with the presidents of countries, including President Obama, and relayed her concerns about drone attacks and how they may be influencing more extremists to take arms.  She started a charity, The Malala Fund, with her father, and its goal is “to enable girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities.”  All of this, and she is not yet 19.

We caught a glimpse of Malala’s childhood and upbringing, and the influence of her non-traditional father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who thought that girls should be educated.  We learned how he named Malala after a hero, Malalai, who was brave and used her voice for good.  After watching the film, we discussed the price Malala paid, what we might have done in her situation, and the art/cartoons used in the film.  She is an icon who has accomplished what we hope our FlexSchool students will through their Community Engagement/Service Projects:  identify and begin to address a problem in the world.

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we focus on academics with the long-view in mind. Visit https://flexschool.net.