Profound. Experiential. Real-Life Learning.

What's a Macro?

Macros redesign the class experience. Instead of having a teacher stand up front and deliver you content, Macros put you in real-world contexts where you work alongside your classmates in teams to solve actual challenges that organizations in the community are facing. These experiences account for more than half of your schedule and are designed to help you develop the creative problem-solving skills so critical to professional success today.

What Does A Macro Feel Like?

Take a look inside one of Hawken’s macros for 9th graders to see how it feels for students to learn complex content and a wide range of skills while working on a real-world challenge.

The 'Why' Behind Macros

We know students learn best — and report the greatest sense of fulfillment — when they’re actively engaged in work that matters.

Macros were created with your learning and motivation in mind. They entrust you and your classmates to find meaningful solutions for problems faced by local partner organizations in your community.

Not only will you get to see how your work can have an impact, but you’ll emerge at the end of the process with greater self-knowledge, substantive confidence in what you’re capable of, and the curiosity and drive to tackle the next thing you want to learn. 

Click here to see how the Engineering Macro dove deep into physics and more while designing an HVAC system for a local partner.

A Radically Different School Day

Macros meet for half the school day, every day. Each semester, you’ll work on multiple separate challenges with increasing complexity. And you’ll get first-hand, up-close knowledge of various partner organizations in the community.

Incoming students begin in one of our foundational Introduction to Complex Problem Solving Macros; then you opt into Macros in Environmental and Physics Systems, Humanities Applications, Political Systems, and more.

Designed for Impact

Macros require that you learn complex content and skills as you address the challenges posed by a local partner. By the end of a Macro, you’ll have a toolkit of creative problem-solving strategies and experiences to draw on as you navigate the world beyond high school.

The Macros for 2021-22 include:

Civic Engagement
In Civic Engagement, we will examine the components of our political system locally, statewide, and nationally, as we imagine new possibilities for how we engage our world. We study the history and content of our founding documents, compare our representative democracy to other forms of government throughout the world, and engage with local partners and Cleveland-area stakeholders who are working to build a robust democracy for all in our community. Students will learn about their voice, and have opportunities to share it with others about the pressing issues of our day. As they distill their sense of issues about which they are passionate, students will research and design effective ways to take action on their passions.

Design Process
The realization that our designed world was created by someone is empowering because if someone created it, someone else can change it. In this Macro, we will use design thinking to understand a problem, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to develop innovative solutions grounded in historical precedent, tested through experimentation, and supported by quantitative data.

You might work on challenges like understanding the historical context of a neighborhood to redesign a house for the future, developing a tool to help an entrepreneur overcome a logistical challenge, and highlighting the identity of a neighborhood or organization through an artistic expression strategy.

Cultural Contexts
Movements and movement have the capacity to strengthen individual and community sense of purpose and identity. The way that problem-solving and decision-making are engaged in movement(s) can make all the difference. Our knowledge of the beginnings of the world as we know it reveals to us that people have moved–and been moved–a lot over time. In some cases, groups have sustained cultural identities and a sense of belonging. In other cases, the context of the movement has made that a difficult, if not possible, task. Urban renewal/gentrification, politically motivated (or policy-based/forced) movement, ability, and social movements have significantly impacted the ways humans see ourselves in relationship to others. The contexts and impacts of movement(s) have also informed folks’ senses of self/purpose, community, safety, security, hope, and livelihood. What causes these movements and how do they impact agency, cultural identity, neighborhoods, the economy, policy, and social issues? What’s at stake when we don’t feel like we belong? When movement is limited? When movement is forced? When movements aren’t heard?

You might work on challenges like understanding the historical context of a neighborhood to design structures that might help combat food insecurity or connect communities to each other, developing a tool to help a community outreach center connect residents to resources, and highlighting different communities’ stories and histories through an artistic expression strategy.

Environmental Justice
Northeast Ohio was recently identified as a “hot spot” of environmental injustice. Opioid addiction, lead poisoning, air pollution, water affordability and infant mortality have all made headlines recently.

Climate change exacerbates many of these issues and not all communities are impacted equally. In 2020, Cleveland declared racism to be a public health crisis, and there are massive racial disparities in who is exposed to pollution and other environmental health hazards.
In Environmental Justice, we will explore the ways in which our environment, our societies, and our health are interdependent. We will seek to deepen our scientific understanding of these complex systems through data collection and analysis and to develop science-based solutions to the pressing problems impacting our local communities and organizations.

Drama & Society
In this Macro, we will explore the entire experience of drama, from the page to the stage. We’ll look at how history, culture, and identity all play an important part in how we create and understand drama. By learning to write complex analytical essays, you’ll learn how to organize and articulate more complex thoughts, and by diving deep into historical research, you’ll learn how your own worldview is a product of time and place. We’ll analyze a variety of scripts and we’ll also write our own.

We’ll learn technical and artistic skills of design that go into the creation of all the different elements of a stage production, including set design, lighting, sound, and costuming. And we’ll practice performance skills that actors use, which are extremely helpful in all kinds of spoken presentations. We’ll work with actors, writers, artists, and maybe even artistic directors of nearby theaters who are actively working on designing and producing plays.

Everything needs energy. Plants and animals need energy to live. Producing heat and light requires energy. Making things requires energy. We get energy from a variety of sources, but not all of those sources are equally available or efficient, and how we use them can have a dramatic impact on the environment around us. In this course, we will dive deep into understanding the conservation and transfer of energy through a variety of environmental & physical systems while working to solve energy related problems for community partners.

Public Arts & Humanities
Strategy, design, and working to learn and understand the social, political, and historical contexts of places and their people are essential to effective storytelling. Public art makes space for artists and performers to interpret history, make decisions about how to communicate that interpretation, and to address social, communal, and/or environmental issues. In this Macro, we will work through the experience of creating a public art exhibit. We will identify issues worth addressing in Cleveland and in any of our other contexts, learn the history of public art and exhibits, and experience through literature and other media the mechanics and power of storytelling. We will explore the ways in which politics, society, collective memory, and cultural identities contribute to our understanding of history (and how those lenses inform our understanding of the present). We will work with curators, storytellers, performing and visual artists, community leaders, and scholars as we develop our capacity to contribute to our larger community in this way.
Read more about what teaming and collaboration look like at the Mastery School.

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