“Paulo Freire Freedom School is a lab school/demonstration site for best instructional practices and small school design.” This has been the purpose and mission of PFFS at the University Blvd location since its opening in August 2005 and continues to be its purpose and mission as we join with City High School and Paulo Freire Freedom School – Downtown as three, unique demonstration learning environments operated by CITY Center for Collaborative Learning.
We are not about creating an alternative to the existing public school systems in Tucson. We are about creating innovative learning spaces within the public school milieu from which all public school educators can learn and grow. The five founders of PFFS-Downtown, PFFS-University, and City High School are all public school ‘teacher leaders’ and we have created these three unique learning environments following the lead of Albert Shanker, former American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president, who in 1988 first proposed the idea of allowing teacher leaders to create innovative learning spaces within the public sector to support public school transformation (read 1988 speech).
Paulo Freire Freedom School at the University location has been demonstrating for 10 years now how to create and sustain small learning communities – small enough that every student is known well by adult staff; small enough to allow the entire teaching staff to sit around a table together and discuss individual students’ needs; small enough to design together powerful, interdisciplinary curriculum to meet those needs; and small enough to allow the utmost of flexibility within our space and time.
This fall, PFFS-U 6th and 7th graders have been working their way through back-to-back, interdisciplinary units of instruction (and associated projects) that combine Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science content standards. The accompanying photos are of students working together on their Cell/Manor projects (using the medieval manor as metaphor to demonstrate their understanding of cell structure) and their Renaissance Notebooks (demonstrating the use of a variety of art, science, and math skills and techniques associated with the Renaissance).