What is a program of study?

Why do we have them?

  • Because young people need better things to do
  • And those better things to do need to come from somewhere
  • And making those things requires deep domain expertise and longterm work and investment
  • Because young people need compelling models in order to do excellent creative work they care about

What makes them good?

  • meaningful — Does doing the project matter? Is the project necessary, useful, or beautiful to the person doing it or someone they care about?
  • ambitious — Does the project stretch the person doing it in meaningful ways? Will they be able to honestly reflect on their growth after doing it?
  • deep — Does the project engage powerful ideas? Is the engagement itself deep, i.e. does the person develop real ownership over ideas, finishing in a position to independently use those ideas for their own ends?
  • real — Is there an independent standard of performance for the project? Does it actually engage with the real world? i.e. could the project stand alone, separate from its context as having been done in a school?
  • fresh — Does the project hang together? Are its ideas coherent? Does it have aesthetic integrity, an internal integrity of design?

What makes them useful?

to youth first

but also to their families, the District, their postsecondary paths, and Powderhouse

What does a program of study look like when it is excellent and going excellently?

  • You can't stop thinking about it and making connections to it, no matter what you're doing.
    • You can do things you couldn't last week.
    • You see things differently than you did last week.
  • It's as much about thinking as it is about doing.
    • This means you are constantly taking things in, that your work is in deep conversation with the work of masters.
    • This means you are constantly putting things out, producing reflective, exploratory, and original artifacts, in all different forms.
  • You are creating world-class work, are regularly sharing it with people outside Powderhouse, and take real pride in what you're doing.

What do we need to develop excellent programs of study?

Biweekly shareouts

What should we keep, lose, change, add?

Group time

When we need it, how should we ask for it?

Building a homebase

What should we be collecting, and how should it be organized?


How can he get up to speed and into your headspace before starting to meet with us more regularly come December?
  • Why are you interested in your program of study?
  • Why do you think other people will be?
  • What are the fundamental questions and powerful ideas in your program of study, and how do you hope to engage with them?
  • What do you especially want help with right now? How might Bakhtiar be most of use?

Before Thanksgiving

  • Bakhtiar has received your introductory email and Program of Study materials
  • Program of Study homebase is deployed (rss, urls, proposal, notey things, profey things)
  • Atlas is set up on your computer and ready to be tested with your Program of Study work