One of the hallmarks of Presbyterian School is our desire to continually evaluate our program to ensure that it is compelling and relevant in today’s dynamic educational marketplace. We feel strongly that our model of education must be responsive to the changing landscape of our world and that it must make sense to a new generation of learners.
It is incumbent upon us to provide our students with more opportunities to grapple with the sorts of situations that the real world is going to throw at them. With fingertip access to resources that were unimaginable even a decade ago, our teachers and students are in the early years of a new age of learning that must promote the following skills:
- Comfort with self-direction and initiative
- Awareness of personal connectedness—that our experiences have value not only for ourselves but also for others
- Awareness of curricular connectedness—that we must confidently link disciplines and tools such as Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics
- Understanding of the meaning and power of collaboration
- Ability to navigate and utilize the readily available abundance of information and intellectual resources
- Engagement in making things that are uniquely and creatively crafted
- Discernment—the intelligent and intentional combination of analysis and synthesis
With this in mind, in the fall 2016, we will launch an expansion of an existing and integrated program that has been led by Academic Enrichment Team member, Gail Kirkconnell. We will strive to develop and extend each student’s ability to identify and solve problems using critical and creative thinking skills with three key (and deceptively simple) challenges for students and teachers:
THINK deeply about problems, ideas, projects, and research
MAKE real-world applications that flow out of that thinking
TALK to members of our community about what they’ve made and how to make it even better
This Think-Make-Talk paradigm is our authentic and research-based approach to the “design thinking,” “makerspace,” and “STEAM” movements sweeping through schools across the country. This stands in stark contrast to the “Talk-Make-Talk” and “Talk-Talk-Talk” focus in too much of educational practice today. In short, we are giving our students, particularly in second grade and higher, time to think—deeply, creatively, and collaboratively—about topics of interest and importance to them.
This engaging paradigm of learning will provide our teachers and students with valuable opportunities to present solutions to problems using a variety of media and methods. It will place more of a premium on divergent thinking and will demand that students engage with and seek to understand the world around them and the talents within them.
Our hope is that teachers and students together will learn to be compassionate, active, and fulfilled learners on a more global stage. From a skills perspective, we envision students honing their abilities to plan and manage tasks, to organize and discuss ideas, to set and achieve goals, and to identify and solve problems. We hope that a regular and sustained exposure to these sorts of skills set in diverse and interesting contexts will ultimately cultivate passion, develop collaboration, and bring out the personal best in each and every one of our students . . . and teachers.