When it came time to develop a framework for our curriculum, it quickly became apparent that a flexible approach would be needed to encompass the full spectrum of learning opportunities we wanted the school to provide. The solution was to adopt a multi-tiered curriculum in which class structure varies depending on the nature of the class and the goals of both teachers and learners. Fittingly, it was nature that provided a template in the form of the four principle states of matter:
Solid courses are fixed in nature and emphasize the acquisition of concrete skills. As such Solid courses are most like conventional classes with set schedules and a sequential approach to learning. Because of these traits, Solid courses will likely require an established class roster with regular attendance.
Liquid courses are a combination of structured and self-directed learning. While Liquid courses still emphasize the roles of teacher and student, both parties are empowered (and encouraged) to collaborate with each other in defining the scope and scale of the class experience. Liquid courses are not restricted to a specific duration or roster, they take on whatever form the collective will of the class dictates.
Gas courses are experimental, free form, and student-driven learning experiences. Unlike Solid and Liquid courses, Gas courses derive their structure entirely from students, empowering them to assume the role of experts and educators on any topics or ideas they are interested in exploring. A Gas course can be a recurring activity or an impromptu event, it can be a skill-based workshop or a forum of equals.
Plasma courses are intensive, experiential, and event-based learning experiences that are intended to punctuate the Black Mountain School curriculum. Singular in nature, Plasma courses provide unique opportunities for both teachers and students to share and explore through a broad range of performances, workshops, and events.