• Image about Blue School

A school founded by the Blue Man Group turns learning into child’s play.


A PERFORMANCE BY THE BLUE MAN GROUP employs screens, projections, oddball props, and, most famously, buckets of blue paint. There are satiric commentaries on science and technology, always wordless and usually set to an irregular percussive heartbeat. Shaving cream and the remote propulsion thereof often figure prominently in the proceedings.

So it comes as a surprise to learn that the project currently capturing the group’s imagination has less to do with pulsating fractals and more to do with basic fractions. In September 2008, the three Blue Men -- Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink -- partnered with a trio of education and developmental experts to open Blue School, a New York charter school for 62 prekindergarten and kindergarten children located on the second floor of a new building in Manhattan’s East Village.

The school prioritizes student-led inquiry over rote learning, face-to-face conflict resolution over time-outs in the corner. Its lofty goal, as outlined in the school’s mission statement, is “to cultivate creative, joyful, and compassionate inquirers who use courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.”

This may sound a touch hippie-dippy-ish to some, especially those weaned on neatly aligned rows of desks and reading/writing/arithmetic curricula. And it’s not like the Blue School comes cheap: A year’s tuition costs $27,300 for the elementary school, while the preschool program ranges from $4,200 to $14,700. But any and all skepticism about the school’s style melts away when you’re amid its gaggle of students, who on this bright Friday are knee-deep in some serious learning about pirates.