Here’s a cool new school that just opened its doors in New York: Quest to Learn, the brainchild of Katie Salen, a games designer and professor of design and technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Grounded in the latest research on learning, video games and digital media, the school opened its doors to 6th graders this week for the first time.

The school day is divided into four 90-minute blocks organized into domains:

1. Codeworlds – a combination of Math and English

2 . Being, Space and Place – English and social studies

3. The Way Things Work -math and science

4. Sports for the Mind – game design and digital literature

According to Q2L’s website: “Quest supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of “systems.” Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century.”

One of the underlying principles is game-based learning, whereby students are able to take on the identities and behaviours of explorers, mathematicians, historians, writers and evolutionary biologists as they work through the curriculum. For example, one unit of The Way Things Work challenges students to get into the minds of scientists devising a pathway for a beam of light to reach a target. This lesson touches on math, optics, creative thinking and teamwork.  Sounds like the perfect antidote to our mass education model which asks students to simply copy and paste into their brains.