We always associate schools with student learning, but never forget that a school can have more purpose beyond that single objective.
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Topic: A School's Purpose


Email 3 (of 8)


We always associate schools with student learning, but never forget that a school can have more purpose beyond that single objective.

Schools are often held up to be the place where we learn, and for good reason. We go to school every day to try and learn, and we culturally associate school with learning. But this purpose isn’t singular or exclusive to schools.

Schools can be safe havens for students, they’re places for students to relax, or have emotional connections with peers. In order to move forward with creating your school, you’ll need to break the line of thinking that a school can be only for learning. Make your way through this email’s readings and try to make note of some different school purposes that you see mentioned.

Featured Materials

Below is a preview of some of the additional readings, videos, comics, and other resources to enhance your learning regarding this email’s topic. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.

The Wheel
This video excerpt is from an early cut of the documentary film “Most Likely To Succeed,” a film about High Tech High which was being filmed around the time this course was being created.


Hip Hop Genius
Sam Seidel is the Author of "Hip-Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education". He produced this video which goes into the idea of Hip Hop Genius, and how it applies to teaching.


Your School Purpose's 
This video evaluates how every school has a purpose beyond just teaching kids, how you can find that purpose, and what factors can influence what a school’s purpose is.


I Used to Think
In this reading, Larry Rosenstock discusses his history of working with underprivileged students. He also speaks about his former views on teaching and how those views have changed and evolved before offering solutions on how to fix systemic problems within the school system today.

Weekly Activity

Activity: School Cross-Comparison


School Cross-Comparison Model: Visit a school online or in person and analyze the purpose of that school. What does it believe? How is it practicing that belief? How does the school represent itself through key characteristics? Write 300-500 words answering the above questions.


Feedback (Optional)

If possible, find 1 or 2 peers to look at your work and offer feedback. What did they notice about the schools you chose that you missed? Did those schools meet their intended purposes?


Activity Models

If you’d like the work you complete for this assignment to be featured as a student model in the future, feel free to contact us! Send an email to and your work could be used for this course.

School Talk 2:
Defining your School's Purpose

During the original course run, Larry and Patrick hosted live weekly chats with thought leaders to address that unit's theme. In this email’s talk, thought leaders discuss how to discuss a purpose for your school.

  Video Version
This is a video of the original talk as it occurred. It is a screen capture of a Google Hangouts conversation
  Podcast Version
This week's talk has also been converted into podcast form for you to listen to.

Next Steps

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