Hill Ties: A Life BaDesign

I am honored to have BaDesign featured in the winter/spring issue of Hill Ties, a publication put out by my alma mater.  The Hill School is a private school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania that:

Prepares young men and women from across the country and around the world for college, careers, and life.

The “work” of The Hill School is completed through the body of learning processes and experiences through which the young men and women of The Hill grow into well-educated young adults. This growth is accomplished by the experience and knowledge gained through the liberal arts and sciences: thinking critically, writing effectively, speaking forcefully, and solving problems analytically.

Within a family school environment and a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, we challenge our young people to work hard; think and reason; be fulfilled; serve the common good; and be prepared to lead as citizens of the world, uniquely guided by our motto, “Whatsoever Things Are True.”

My years at Hill were quite influential.  The article (see link below) speaks to that fact.  With one school age daughter of our own, and a second only six months away from kindergarten, Jennifer and I find ourselves reflecting on our own educational experiences and planning for the future of theirs.  We recently attended a Hill School alumni event in San Francisco at which the new Headmaster spoke about the increasing financial challenges faced in the private secondary school system.  One of his goals as Headmaster is to make the admission process at Hill “need blind”.  This means that an applicant’s financial means would only be revealed after acceptance decisions were made.  The school would then find a way to meet the financial needs of every student admitted.  That same evening, the Headmaster admitted that he had no choice but to break his pledge not to raise tuition for the 2013-2014 school year.  Regardless of whether Hill becomes need blind or not, the private school system is, and will remain, out of reach for the majority of our population.  However, limitations can sometimes lead to creative solutions.

Currently, Jennifer and I are face to face with the urban public school system in Oakland.  Yes budgets are meager and teachers are overworked and sometimes under-trained.  The methods used for preparing students for standardized testing are often charged with supressing creativity and critical thinking.  In the midst of these hurdles we are seeing motivated parents donating their time, experience, and energy to work creatively within and also push the boundaries of the politically flawed and financially strained system.  This year we were lucky enough to join a community of people at Urban Montessori, an Alameda County public charter school.  The founders of Urban Montessori were driven to bring self-directed learning to a diverse group of children.  Montessori teaching principles are combined with “design thinking” methods.  As defined by Urban Montessori, design thinking is: using a systematic process to understand people and situations, define problems, and come up with innovative solutions.  The school is not exempt from standardized testing, but the method by which children are prepared to pass these tests is intended to not interfere with the development of innovative methods of learning.  As challenges in the public education system grow, so too must exceptions to the rules.  Able parents will need to engage and support in whatever way they can the function of their child’s education, whether inside or outside of school.  In my opinion a hands-on, self-guided yet systematic, design thinking approach to education would be invaluable for all children to navigate the rapidly changing environment that lies ahead.

To read some brief thoughts on my own creative influences, business and family click here: BaDesign Hill Ties

–Branden Adams

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BaDesign featured as one of Oakland’s Environmental Heroes

green business

 BaDesign was recently featured in San Francisco Business Times as one of Oakland’s diverse green businesses for our PALLETproducts furniture line–contemporary, high end furniture made from wood repurposed from shipping pallets.  Thank you to Stephen Lautze at the City of Oakland for the nice write-up. 

Green Oakland Business

We’ve also been nominated for this year’s Oakland Indie Greenie Award.  The Greenie is given to “our environmental hero[es], immersed in sustainable practices.”  If you want to see some of the goods that heroes make, we’ll be exhibiting furniture at the Market Hall at Jack London Square the first 2 weekends of June (Saturday and Sunday) as part of the East Bay Open Studios.  See you there!!!

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