We live in an extraordinary moment of human history, where challenges of population growth, environmental threats, economic uncertainties, and political instability produce unprecedented and exponential rates of change. At the same time, we are also witness to advances in technology, communications, and information systems that disrupt traditional approaches to teaching and learning. As innovative educators, we know how to utilize research findings and current ideas on best practices to define new learning opportunities. We are constantly searching for initiatives that reflect new ways to organize student learning and define academic communities.
Schools need to provide an environment where higher order thinking skills (i.e. synthesis, analysis, systems thinking, application and divergent reasoning) are appropriately stimulated and nurtured. This focus and development of thinking skills should be complemented with experiences that meet the social and emotional needs of children. A large body of research on life-long success and personal happiness consistently demonstrates that “non-cognitive” skills like cooperation, resilience, creativity, persistence, empathy, sense of humor, and leadership are far better determiners of achievement than the acquisition of pure academic skills.
This leads us to a student-centered model for teaching and learning. We need to prepare students to navigate a complex and dynamic world, this generation is much more likely to be involved in startup ventures, creating their own jobs, embracing challenges with disciplined analysis and celebrating creativity.
The advantage of a student-centered educational model allows the learner to:
- Connect learning to the real world
- Individualize the pace and approach to learning
- Create active learning experiences with real world applications
The best schools utilize a range of resources to invite, entice, and spark passion so students can fully engage in personally fulfilling activities. A quality learning experience is designed to permit, promote and encourage students to develop the required skills to create new opportunities and take advantage of existing ones to pursue a fulfilling life for and to be a productive contributor to a larger community.