• Experience Education
Experience Education

Experience Education

Learn by doing

At The Bush School, students learn through engaging in direct, active experiences that result in real responsibility for outcomes.
Experiential learning promotes the pursuit of passions, interests, risk-taking, and innovation. Students learn the subject matter and learn about themselves by being involved in activities and taking ownership of their learning process. Trust has been a defining characteristic of The Bush School's approach since its founding — faculty trust students to stay engaged and push themselves to achieve their greatest potential. This level of trust and autonomy frequently results in learning that is rich and unexpected.

Field trips, international travel, and wilderness outings are the most visible examples of experiential education at Bush. However, hands-on, inquiry-based learning is just as prevalent in the classroom. Faculty design and execute intentional, instructive experiences for students with clear objectives, meaningful activities, and authentic reflection. Faculty carefully ensure that lessons incorporate social/emotional and intra/interpersonal goals.

Middle School Experiential Map

Experiential Programs at The Bush School

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Middle School E-lectives and E-Week

    The Middle School offers a wide variety of classes to students through the E-lective Program.  E-lectives are an experiential program where Middle School students discover new interests, develop interpersonal, collaborative, and leadership skills, and take on real or perceived risks in a safe and nurturing environment.

    Students experience a range of different activities: some familiar, and some that present new and exciting challenges. The E-lective program runs throughout the school year on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:25 p.m. and on Fridays from 1:45 to 3:25 p.m., and provides every student with the opportunity to explore and develop lifelong skills and interests.

    E-lectives focus on five essential elements: critical thinking, creativity, community, collaboration and challenge.  As the core experiential program in the Middle School, E-lectives build on skills learned in the classroom and enhance the learning process outside the classroom, necessary elements in educating the whole child.

    Elements of E-lectives:
    • Critical Thinking:  questioning, informed decision making
    • Creativity:  thinking outside the box, pushing boundaries, trial and error
    • Community:  Middle School, The Bush School, Seattle, United States, global, ethical judgment and action, Intercultural Fluency
    • Collaboration:  group project/show, teamwork, student-teacher connections, student-student connection across grade levels
    • Challenge:  confront risk and discomfort, student leadership
    Over the course of a three-year period, students can take up to 18 E-lective courses. During those three years, students are required to take a variety of E-lectives from the seven categories:

    Categories of E-lectives:
    1. Athletics/Team
    2. Arts
    3. Service Learning/Community Engagement
    4. Global Issues/Sustainability
    5. STEM
    6. Wilderness/Wilderness Skills
    7. Physical Fitness/Mindfulness

    Students and their advisors will map out a course of E-lective experiences each year. They will also track choices to insure that students meet requirements to participate in a variety of experiences.  In many instances, a five week preparation E-lective for E-week will also count towards fulfilling this requirement and is required by many E-week programs:
    • Students entering Bush in sixth grade must take E-lectives from five of the seven categories over three years.
    • Students entering Bush in seventh grade must take E-lectives from four of the seven categories over two years.
    • Students entering Bush in eighth grade must take E-lectives from at least two different categories.
  • Upper School AMP (Action Module Program)

    AMP is an essential part of the Upper School experience. Students participate in AMPs during each term of the year, and the integration of AMPs into the school schedule is a tangible demonstration of the school’s commitment to experiential education. AMPs take place on Wednesday afternoons from 1:20 to 3:30 p.m. in the fall and winter terms. In the spring term, week-long experiential programs are offered. Students sign up for AMPs at the start of each term. 

    Students are required to complete one AMP credit per term for a total of 12 AMP credits during their time at Bush, accumulating an eclectic mix of experiences that range from glass casting to alpine mountaineering to supporting elderly community members with music and conversation.

    All AMPs emphasize as many elements as possible of the following acronym: DR CROSS (discovery, real tasks with real responsibilities, camaraderie, risk, off campus–when and wherever possible, skills, and service). Students can develop and lead an AMP with faculty sponsorship.

  • Middle and Upper School Wilderness Program

    The Bush School seeks to develop in students a passion for outdoor adventures, a sense of identity and confidence based on acquired skills and experiences, and a commitment to stewardship of the natural world. The goal is to provide students with experiences in which they face real tasks with real consequences, are placed in positions of leadership, take responsibility for planning and for decision-making, and where their own desires are secondary to the welfare of the group. 

    Students are taught specific outdoor and group skills and learn an appreciation for nature and its interrelationships while learning specific techniques for rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, skiing (alpine and cross country), snowshoeing, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, and sailing.