We raise questions that arouse a child’s interest, then answer them with real, step-by-step evidence.
Young children—preschoolers and second-graders, say—are inherently curious and eager to learn. By 8th grade, though, this eagerness all too often gives way to cynicism and disengagement. Central to our unique approach to educating children is the goal of kindling the flame of curiosity, so that it grows, not atrophies, as your child advances through our program.
First, we spend time raising a question in the child’s mind—a question that leads each child to be sincerely interested in learning, and that is personally relevant, given his unique context of background knowledge, skills and interests. The questions come first, the content, second. For example, in math, we puzzle the students by asking them to calculate “5 + 10 × 3”, allowing some to come up with 35 and others with 45 as the answer. They argue about which answer is correct and eventually realize that the answer depends on the order in which one goes through the calculations. Now the students are puzzled about this issue, and are thereby primed to learn a lesson on the rules for stipulating which order of operation is correct. Imagine how much less exciting and interesting it would be if, rather than going through this exercise, the teacher started off the class by simply stating what the rules are regarding the order of operations.
Our answers are always about the world, not words: We offer our students systematic, sequential instruction so they can build knowledge upon knowledge, and always know why they are learning something, and how it ties to the world. This is what makes learning motivating: being able to understand the world! In contrast, memorizing floating constructs such as the process of photosynthesis, without understanding the deeper what and why, turns eager learners into reluctant students. What could be more boring than being asked to memorize “2n CO2 + 2n H2O + photons → 2(CH2O)n + n O2 + 2n A” without being presented with a clear explanation of why the process described by this equation even matters?!