As C&C Archivist I am caretaker to the trove of historical photos and children’s work carefully selected and preserved to document the early history of progressive education and our continued commitment to those foundations. These valuable records and images astound, but, as a visitor to the School reminded me, the everyday works of our students do much to illuminate what we do and why we do it.
During a tour of the school, one visitor drew my attention with her unwavering focus to the communication and design materials that our students produce daily. As we explored the school, I found this visitor peeking over my shoulder, stopping suddenly to look more closely at something in the hall, and generally exclaiming with delight at all of the child-made signs and artifacts that surround us who work and learn here every day.
I’d been in the midst of this steady stream of creativity and communication for enough years that these works had simply become the backdrop of my days, but for this outsider, the ingenuity, thoughtfulness, and simple focus on communication from the child’s perspective was a revelation to see in the school setting.
Her surprise at the children’s signs urged me to look with new eyes at what we here insist on—that the School’s most meaningful learning begins and ends with the children. Our students are the heart of the school, and they leave their mark on everything they encounter.
Inside and out, learning is forged from the hands and the minds of the children. City and Country’s students communicate with each other and the community at large through signs, symbols and artifacts hung in the halls, on the walls, and on the doors; from the drafting tables and the wood bench; for our offices and classrooms. From the smallest scraps of paper to floor-to-ceiling murals, these students work out their own thinking and teach each other; they spread their knowledge in myriad visual manifestations.
C&C founder Caroline Pratt called this kind of work “enrichment of experience.” Signs of a Progressive Education presents the information exchange that deeply enriches their daily learning experience. From the tiniest details to the grandest gestures you’ll see the integrity of effort and passion in all of the works. C&C children have something to say and they say it in unique, crafted, purposeful and beautiful ways.