Our Guiding Principles
We should be educating in a fashion that highlights and prizes points of connectivity. Being attentive to common themes that run between disciplines makes the teaching and learning process more coherent and meaningful. Furthermore, encouraging learners to find the connections between seemingly incongruous disciplines like history and chemistry encourages intellectual dexterity.
Being successful today requires the ability to work on diverse teams, manage relationships and communicate effectively. Given this reality, we should question why most schools stubbornly cling to educational models that encourage students and teachers to work alone. Schools should instead be places where students learn from each other, teachers develop their practice with their peers, and together teachers and students determine how teaching and learning will proceed. True collaboration requires learning to reach across social divisions. We encourage students, teachers and administrators to honestly and openly confront issues surrounding race, class, gender, sexuality and ability, as we stive to create democratic learning communities that treat differences as a source of strength that spark conversation, empathy and social awareness.
Teachers and students do their best work in environments that encourage creativity. Learning should be more than the process of transferring information from teacher to student and student to test. It should be an endeavor in which teachers assist students in developing their understandings and skills through activities that help them see the relevance of what they are learning and that encourage critical thinking and deep reflection.
Change Should be Local and International
More and more, the classroom is becoming global. Service learning trips, exchanges and tours are now seen as a desirable and necessary part of a student’s education. These experiences present new possibilities and new challenges. Service learning, for example, sounds good, but too often tends toward a familiar donor/recipient format that distorts as much as it reveals. Global engagement should begin with the premise that we have as much to learn as we have to offer and programming should be designed to maximize collaboration and respect for other cultures.