Walden School discussed at Amos Fortune Forum

  • Walden School Executive Director Seth Brenzel spoke at the Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Walden School Executive Director Seth Brenzel spoke at the Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey on Friday, Aug. 10. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/14/2018 10:16:14 AM

The audience at Friday’s Amos Fortune Forum was asked to do something that quite possibly no other audience has been asked to do in any of the 72 seasons the forum has been around.

After his introduction, Walden School Executive Director Seth Brenzel told those in attendance to stand up, close their eyes, and link hands in a circle – which extended around the interior of the Jaffrey Meetinghouse.

All linked together, Brenzel squeezed the hand of the person on his right. The expectation was to have the person whose hand was squeezed to let out an audible “hah” and then squeeze the hand of the person to their right, continuing the pattern. 

The “musical” performance was one of composer Pauline Oliveros’ Sonic Meditations, just one of the activities used at the Walden School to help foster creativity. 

“Everyone is innately creative,” Brenzel said. “Oftentimes the creativity that we all have inside us gets squished.”

Brenzel has been associated with the Walden School – a summer music school housed at the Dublin School campus – for almost 30 years both as a student and a staff member. 

“What I hope is that this talk will actually be a commercial for immersive community artistic experiences of all kinds and for how these experiences can be transformative for our youth, in particular, but for all people who are able to experience such an environment that fosters creativity,” Brenzel said. 

The Walden School’s approach to teaching students combines a level of structure and rigor – teaching mastery of certain musical concepts – while also providing unstructured time to allow students to flourish in their creativity.

“Here’s the thing about outside the box thinking, you have know the box,” Brenzel said. “Things are only limited by their deadline and creativity.”

Brenzel said there is also much focus on modeling educational concepts rather than telling students about them. 

“It’s all activity based,” Brenzel said. “It’s not about knowing, it’s about doing…. At each step, they are improvising. We don’t spoonfeed them the material.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT. 

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