Identity Building

In my limited, but expanding experience with Bloomington Project School, my observation is that it has begun to develop, or perhaps was developed with an identity of being forward thinking, and based in a systems thinking, and sustainability model. This identity development is both top down and from within the student body.

A significant component of the school’s culture is one in which the students are given agency through being active partners in developing their own education. This process is seen most clearly in what is known as Passions, a forty minute block of time four days a week where the students are able to participate in hands on activities of their choosing and design. These activities range from making jewelry with duct tape to yoga to geocaching and mapping. These Passions sessions run for three to four weeks, then some new ones are structured, some favorites remain, and the students rotate into a new experience for the next round.  

The children have agency in developing parts of the structure of their learning, and through that experience their self-identity as both individuals in a community of students, and in the broader community of Bloomington. This is valuable in how it may lead to their capacity to positively affect and help develop the identity of Bloomington itself, a town that has as its primary face forward an identity wrapped in the trappings of Indiana University. The children, through their development of both identity and systems thinking skills, can begin to look beyond their immediate school environment, and into the community of Bloomington in ways that can allow for its deeper histories and broader population to be more integrated into the conversation of the town’s own identity.



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