Building a 21st Century Student at The Long Ridge School
A Time Magazine cover story, “How to Build A Student for the 21st Century,” identified four areas essential for students to become successful citizens in a globalized world: thinking outside the box, becoming smarter about new sources of information, developing good people skills and knowing more about the world. Although the discussion about twenty-first century skills is often reported as new news, The Long Ridge School curriculum has been graduating students with these skills since its founding in 1938.
21st Century skills are embedded in the basic tenets of progressive education, which influenced LRS founder Harriet Rowland, and much of her philosophy lives on in our current programs. The essential elements of progressive education that distinguish it from “traditional” education are:
- focus on educating the whole child as a unique person and learner
- helping children become good people and citizens as well as good learners
- the importance of an active, hands-on, experiential learning environment
- dynamic interdisciplinary, theme-based studies that connect various curriculum areas
- emphasis on the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills to achieve deep understanding rather than the mere acquisition and repetition of memorized facts, in isolation
- collaborative learning in a caring community through group projects and experiencesuse of multiple resources for information, rather than relying only on text books
- intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, rewards for learning (experiencing the joy of learning-not just the joy of getting an A)
- expanding a sense of social justice from the individual to global community
- developing a lifelong love of learning
Alfie Kohn and others have published extensive research reviews on the comparative success of students educated in progressive and traditional schools. In an article in Independent School magazine, Kohn concludes, “Across domains, the results overwhelmingly favor progressive education. Regardless of one’s values…this approach can be recommended purely on the basis of its effectiveness. And if your criteria are more ambitious–long-term retention of what’s been taught, the capacity to understand new kinds of problems, a desire to continue learning–the relative benefits of progressive education are even greater.”
Teaching in a progressive school is a very demanding occupation, requiring experience, dedication and creativity to develop a curriculum that engages and challenges all students and responds to their individual interests and styles and rates of learning. Those of us who have chosen progressive education as our careers, experience the joy of watching children become lifelong learners every day!
Long Ridge School’s teachers develop each student’s natural curiosity and help them find joy in learning, critical thinking and problem solving skills,” says John Ora, Head of School. “Learning is joyous here because children explore, experiment and experience their education in a caring, exciting and challenging academic community.”
Parents are equally excited about the opportunities Long Ridge School presents for their children. “This is the school where my children learned to love learning! The skills they learned at LRS have been the bedrock of the remainder of my children’s educational experiences since leaving Long Ridge. Thank you, LRS!,” says an alum parent.
Nursery through grade 5
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