Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten
Mayor Martin J. Walsh recently asked a group of kindergartners: “What ideas do you have about construction that would make Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children?”
The Mayor’s question came in the form of a letter that he sent to mark the culmination of a Boston Public Schools (BPS) kindergarten curriculum unit called Construction. Construction is part of Focus on K2 which is curricula that combines current research on teaching and learning with attention to high standards for achievement. The value of being a citizen and a member of a community is explored throughout Focus on K2, in part, through the integration of authentic learning opportunities with members of the Boston community. Construction, is one of the four extended units that make up Focus on K2. Others include Our Community, Animals and Habitats, and Our Earth.
The BSA Foundation worked with the Department of Early Childhood to integrate architect visits into the classroom program. Since 2018, volunteer architects have visited BPS kindergarten classrooms to work with students as they begin their Construction unit. Throughout the unit, students build the skills of the design process—analysis, collaboration, creative thinking, and problem solving. Such skills allow even our youngest citizens—kindergarten students—to contribute potential solutions to the challenges they see facing our city.
By inviting kids to think about how design can solve problems that affect their families and neighbors, we are also preparing them to create the habit of community engagement, which we believe results in a richer social and urban fabric built around ideas of collaboration, innovation, design excellence, and inclusion.
The Mayor’s letter to the kindergartners continued: “You are experts on Boston. You know a lot about parks, buildings, and roads that are near your homes and schools…Think hard about this question and take your time answering it….Please create a model that shows your suggestion and write about your idea.”
The models on view at BSA Space are the result of a collaboration among BPS kindergarten students who were not only invited by their Mayor to solve real-world challenges, but were taught, through hands-on mentoring by volunteer architects, the design skills required to conceive, develop, and express their ideas.
Boston Public School students, educators, and Mayor Walsh came together for a Family celebration on Saturday May 11 from 10:00 am–noon.
View photos of the exhibition and the visit from Mayor Walsh at the Family Celebration here.
Lead supporters of youth design education through Provoking Change Legacy Circle membership: