CHOOSING THE STUDIO SCHOOL
We realize there are other schools you could attend, bu​t we hope you will see we're pioneering a bold new approach to teaching and learning; ​​​​​​​a whole-school studio model grounded in the contemporary world that combines creative, hands-on, problem-and project-driven learning with academic and creative rigor, and empowered social action.​​

The Studio School was founded by practicing teachers, and our model has been developed based on extensive research about best practices in high schools and colleges in the U.S., Australia, and the UK, and we've tried and tested this approach with students in our own classes. By learning through projects and real work students don't just "get through" or "do" school. They actively use the knowledge they learn while practicing and developing the skills they need to flourish in their lives.​

We encourage you to use the information here to see​ if our values are a good fit for you, explore our approach, and see if you really want to become part of our community. These aren't just empty​ ideas or more fancy mission statement buzzwords. These are our values and core beliefs, this is what we're passionate about doing with students, and this is our clear, unique vision for providing students with the education we know they deserve.
“Creativity
takes courage.”

~ Henri Matisse
Creative Inquiry at Our Core
© 2018 The Studio School
Our core disciplines of Visual Arts, Media Arts, Design, Engineering and Service-Learning are all considered avenues for engaging in creative inquiry, or questioning, to learn. It may seem unnatural to include Engineering and Service-Learning here, but learning and engaging in successful work in both of these disiplines requires the same kind of dedication to problem finding, concept development, brainstorming, and problem solving as creating a series of photographs, making a painting, or designing a logo would.

So we decided it's time for these academic disciplines to start speaking the same language. We combined Harvard University Project Zero's Studio Habits of Mind and Visible Thinking processes, Standford University d.School's Design Thinking process, NASA's Engineering Design Method , the universal scientific method , and the artistic creative proces into a streamlined Creative Inquiry Process, and Studio School students learn to approach their project-driven work in all classes using this fluid process.
As students exercise their creative questioning, they also learn to intentionally consider their influences, the audience and the purpose of their work, to contextualize what they do and learn, and to make inventive work as solutions to problems and expressions of ideas that are meaningful to them. This requires students to observe, research and explore many ideas, understand the world through diverse perspectives, envision, stretch and explore, reflect, express ideas, engage and persist, and develop craft.

Countless educational experts have shared that learning a specific skill set or simply memorizing  facts doesn’t have the value in today’s world it once did. This is why we focus instead on helping students learn how engage in creative inquiry so they can apply their knowledge to addressing real problems. We're confident this approach will best prepare students for life beyond the classroom in the 21st Century as engaged global citizens.

Everyone is Gifted: We Focus on
​Ability vs. Talent

Talent is often defined as am innate gift magically bestowed only upon a select few people at random. It's seen as something a person is "just born with," or as some mystical quality that some people magically "have" and others just don't. Or sometimes it's even understood to be a genetic disposition, or discussed as something only a small number
​of people are ​​​​​lucky enough to be blessed with.​​​​​​​​​


But we see things a little differently; to us, the idea of 'talent' is a myth. We know from experience that those often labeled as "talented" are simply individuals who have dedicated a lot
of time and effort
​ to developing their interests and skills, or
​to pursuing a passion, either with guidance or independently. ​


This is why we don't label or categorize students according to ideas of 'talent.' Instead,​ we've created an individualized educational program that helps every student access rigor, unlock their passions, find and grow their unique abilities, and identify and develop their skills in our core disciplines and throughout our program.

Collaboration in Practice

Working effectively and productively with others is an extremely complex endeavor. ​​​​​​​​​Collaboration skills can be complicated to learn because they are actually people skills, and learning these skills takes guided practice and quality feedback. Studio School teachers explicitly teach and model collaboration skills including active listening, mutual respect, positive attitude (growth mindset), and focused social awareness.

But, we know that simply modeling behaviors and telling students to work together won't necessarily lead to productive collaboration.​ Therefore, our teachers develop active, engaging learning activities and projects where students have real reasons to collaborate. We use these opportunities to teach and help students practice how to be good group members as they participate in role playing and facilitating group discussions.​ Additionally, teachers facilitate collaboration by holding high expectations for students, showing students successful work​ examples, assigning leadership roles, encouraging self-direction, helping students plan and chart project progress, and designing assessments to promote reflection, measure individual growth, evaluate group processes, and assess project outcomes.

We Value Integrated Literacy

Learning to read and write well are crucial life skills. We value intentionally integrating reading and writing into every Studio School class because:
  • reading inspires students, introducing them to great ideas and improving their ability to think critically and analytically
  • reading centers class discussion, giving students something to talk about beyond their own personal experiences
  • reading illustrates models of truly excellent writing which offers students instruction in voice, organization, syntax, and language
  • writing increases the depth of knowledge on a subject and helps students master specialized vocabulary or terminology related to the topic
  • writing develops critical thinking and multi-modal communication skills; when a student has to research something, organize their thoughts, then write about it in a clear, concise way they learn to make educated decisions, pose clear arguements and consider their audience
  • writing promotes independent thinking and developing
    ​a unique point of view.


Developing a Personal Creative Voice

Creating personally meaningful work can be an elusive thing. Many students fall into the trap of either imitating their favorite artists, teachers or mentors, or relying too much on technique training. But developing a personal creative voice means moving beyond the crutches of mimicry and technique, and instead focusing on developing a personal point-of-view, style or aesthetic, and concept basis.

To help Studio School students understand and achieve this, we provide opportunities to try techniques as one would a buffet. In their foundational Freshman and Sophomore years students examine contemporary inspriations, concepts and practices while building strong skills in a wide variety of expressive media including observational drawing, painting, 3D design, ceramics, engineering concepts, graphic design, film, animation and photography. If something is intriguing, we encourage students to keep with it and build off of it. Otherwise we help students reflect on their learning before moving on to try other things.

In other words, rather than requiring students to declare only one focus that drives all their studies for four years, we promote working with a patchwork of many influences, and mixing techniques, interests, concepts, media and disciplines in order to discover strengths and weaknesses. Then, in their Junior year, students are ready to expand their interests and identify focus areas that will help them complete a body of creative work in the same theme throughout their Senior year. 
Artwork by Meghan H. © 2016
Helping students develop their creative voice in this way, and making these practices a key element of their education is essential to our mission. ​​​We provide the means for students to engage deeply in the creative process and experience the experimentation, personal meditation and self-reflection it takes to discover their voice.

Leadership in Action

Leadership is not about social position, title, power, authority, celebrity, wealth, family or genetics. It's also not something reserved only for a chosen few individuals. ​​​​We believe
every student can learn to lead in their own way, and that leadership is collaborative. We also believe that being a good leader is about building relationships, learning to recognize and seize opportunity, and backing up what you say with what you do.

While there is an art to enacting good leadership, there are also observable skill sets and abilities that can be actively learned and strengthened given the motivation, desire, practice, feedback, role models, and coaching. This is why we combine the Student Leadership Challenge curriculum with real world opportunities for students to practice leadership skills throughout our program.​ Our hope is for all Studio School students to become the transformative leaders of today and tomorrow. It's their vision, their values, and their beliefs that will shape the direction of our world, and we want to help them each rise to the challenge!

Making as Learning

Somewhere between kindergarten and high school, students can lose their natural love of learning. When this happens, their natural curiosity is often replaced by apathy, distractions and a disaffection for learning. ​This struggle to connect personally with what is being taught in school is called an engagement gap, and is one contributing factor to the academic achievement gap. Any student experiencing this, especially those coping with learning challenges, can struggle academically and often fall further behind causing more disconnection. 

We employ research-based and proven successful strategies to help close the engagement gap. Research (and our collective professional experience) has shown that participating in hands-on activities rekindles a love of learning and helps students connect abstract concepts to the real world while motivating them to achieve success in school by all assessment measures. This is why Studio School students make things with their hands in every class, because we know this practice has the power to encourage a lifelong love of learning,​ foster renewed curiosity, and motivate students to explore, discover and genuinely connect with new passions.

Expert Teachers

While attending The Studio, students will work with expert teachers  as well as with practicing artists and professionals, and many mentors from throughout the Twin Cities community. We not only want to bring the students out into the world to learn, we want to bring the community into the school so we can all teach and learn together.
"We expert teachers know that motivation
and emotional impact are what matter."
—Donald A. Norman