• Experience Education

Experience Education

Experience Education

Learn by doing

“The goal is to provide students with experiences in which they engage with the world. Students are placed in positions of leadership, take measured risks, and build an authentic inner confidence from the sum of their accomplishments.” — Kristin McInaney, Experiential Programs Manager

Experiential learning promotes the pursuit of passions, interests, risk-taking, and innovation. Students learn about the subject matter and themselves by being involved in activities and taking ownership of their learning. 

Our experiential programs are built on a foundation of trust, which has been a defining characteristic of The Bush School since the beginning. Faculty trust students to stay engaged and push themselves to achieve their greatest potential. This approach 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 with clear objectives, authentic assessment, and thoughtful reflection. 

The Bush School Experiential Map

Experiential Programs at The Bush School

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Middle School E-week

    Middle School Experiential Weeks (E-weeks) are a special time at the end of the academic year when students choose from up to 16 different experiential and interdisciplinary programs created by Bush faculty. Each program is a two-week immersion in intercultural, arts, and/or wilderness challenges in learning environments in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, and far beyond. For the 2021/2022 school year, E-weeks run from May 23 to June 3, but many programs include additional weekend days and nights beyond these dates.

    The purpose of E-Week is to develop in students:
    • a desire to explore and experience the world in both natural and urban settings;
    • a growing sense of identity and confidence based on acquired skills and knowledge;
    • and an active interest in and concern for other people.
  • Middle School Wilderness Program

    Wilderness trips are an important part of the Experiential Education Program in the Bush Middle School. These trips allow students to develop an appreciation and respect for the natural world and to experience real-life situations in which they must take responsibility for their own actions, cooperate with others, and find their place in group situations.

    The Bush Middle School wilderness trips occur on extended weekends, and are open to all Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade students, unless specifically noted. No experience is necessary for most trips. When a prior skill is needed for a trip, this requirement will be stated in the offering. All Bush Middle School wilderness trips are led by Bush teachers who are also experienced outdoor leaders. In some cases, a trip may be co-led by a professional guide and a teacher.
  • Middle School E-lectives

    In the Bush Middle School, E-lectives are an essential part of young people discovering who they are. E-lectives are offered in a wide range of disciplines. E-lective courses provide substantial room for choice, specialization, and developing individual strengths and talents.

    E-lectives are short, highly focused courses; which provide opportunities for students to explore interests outside of traditional school subjects, and throughout the school’s history have included wilderness experiences, community engagement, or learning specific art disciplines.

    In addition, many extracurricular activities are held during E-lective time, including all Middle School sports, the twice-yearly play production, yearbook, and literary magazine production.
  • Upper School Cascades Program

    The Bush School divides the Upper School program into fall and spring semesters, and two three-week Cascades terms occur at the end of each semester. The winter Cascades term runs the first three weeks in January, while the spring Cascades term runs for three weeks in May.

    During each Cascade, students take a single interdisciplinary course of study, led by interdepartmental teaching teams. These thematic immersive experiences are comprised of students across all grade levels. Cascades are academically engaging, challenging, and require students to grapple with complex problems and face real-life challenges both on and off campus.