For most of the twentieth century, school was organized around an industrial model that operated on the assumption that information was at a premium, and those who mastered the most information were the most educated, and therefore the most successful. In the Information Age, however, much of the content in any school’s curriculum is available to everyone at the push of a button. Those who’ve memorized the most content for any particular test don’t stand out in today’s world; instead, what’s valued most are the skills associated with doing work that the World Wide Web still can’t do.
At Lipscomb Academy we’re committed to developing what we call the six C’s: character, critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and cosmopolitanism. These are the skills and values that the 21st century will demand and reward, and these are the skills that we seek to nurture in our students, K-12. Through our commitment to individual learning, relational learning, and learning for the greater good we seek to encourage students to build upon their natural curiosity, hone their inquisitiveness, and apply what they are learning to the world beyond themselves and our school. It’s essential that they learn how to think for themselves, how to convey a convincing argument on paper and in person, how to make something that comes from within rather than is imposed from without, how to work effectively with others, and how to connect with the wider world.
As a former math teacher, I’ve grappled with these challenges for years. I remember first-hand as a student how quickly I forgot what I’d just memorized for a test several days before. Charged with the responsibility of leading students through what I wanted to be a provocative and interesting journey of numbers and patterns, I worried as a young teacher that many students struggled to understand why a certain fact mattered. I came to understand that “because I said so” wasn’t a very good answer.
My teaching and their learning became significantly better when instead of focusing on practice, I allowed students to explore and look for patterns. As a result, their understanding quotient went up considerably. It’s like starting at the roots of a tree and working up as opposed to trying to memorize something unique about the leaves. Not only is this a much more effective way to learn, it is more fun.
That is the premise of Lipscomb Academy’s Explorations Program. We want students to experience the world first-hand. This Spring students will have the opportunity to try new things; things that they may have never done before or are outside of the normal classroom routine. For instance, Niki Ganick will help students learn about the art of movement and Becky Collins will tap into a child’s naturalist side. I encourage you to check out our upcoming offerings from March 25-May 2.