Signature Features of the Academy’s 21st Century Educational Practice
The following five “signature features” of the Academy’s educational practice are designed to foster both core content mastery as well as development of intellectual virtues for lifelong learning and success that are the foundation of a 21st Century education.
- Personal Approach. The Academy’s mission is to nurture the deep personal qualities essential to being an excellent and lifelong learner. It is therefore part of the “cura personalis” or “education of the whole person” tradition in education (Richards 1980; Huebner 1995; Kirby et al 2006). The Academy’s small size and dialogical pedagogy will ensure that the school is an intimate, friendly, and personal environment. Academy teachers will attend to and nurture the well-being of each student.
- Rigorous. Intellectual virtues do not arise in a vacuum; rather, they are the product of rigorous engagement with curricular content. An intellectual virtues approach to education is not an alternative to a rich, standards-based, college- and career- preparatory approach. At the Academy, the curriculum will be closely aligned with Common Core State Standards, and teachers will nurture and inspire a rigorous command of this material.
- Reflective. Growth in the intellectual virtues must be pursued in a reflective, intentional manner. Therefore, students and teachers at the Academy will be aware of and attentive to their own intellectual strengths and weaknesses and will use this knowledge to their advantage in the learning process. Students will also be reflective in their engagement with academic content: their teachers will routinely reflect with them on why they are learning what they are learning; and they will be challenged to “think outside the box,” generate new ideas and solutions, and consider alternative possibilities.
- Actively Engaged. Students do not become excellent thinkers or inquirers by being passive recipients of tidily packaged bits of information. Students at the Academy will be expected to take control of their intellectual growth and development. They will be trained to actively engage ideas, ask good questions, demand evidence, and support and defend their convictions.
- Relational. Character growth occurs most often in the context of relationships. This is a context in which intellectual virtues can be modeled, trust can be built, care can be expressed, and where admiration and emulation are a natural result. Academy teachers will know their students and will actively seek to address their needs. Students will work together in mutually edifying and supportive relationships.