While the term “innovation” may seem little more than a buzzword thrown around in product placement ads and business seminars, some private schools are taking it to the next level.
By granting students access to advanced technology and creating new spaces for hands-on exploration in design, coding, and engineering, independent schools are ushering in a new era of education. Embracing change is part of the redefined standards for private schools. As observed on Edutopia, the new principles of private education must be rooted in active collaboration, diverse opportunity, and student-driven experiences to be considered innovative in the 21st century.
Shore Country Day School in Beverly, Mass. has a two-story Innovation Lab that is an active maker space used for a wide range of subjects. Every student, from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9, participates in projects designed around grade-specific curriculum. Key projects include everything from assembling globally-inspired hats for the annual Hat Parade for Kindergarteners to building an Incan-inspired rope bridge using limited resources in Grade 4, and from harnessing the power of water to create electricity in Grade 3, to designing and playing ecosystem-focused games on a custom water table. By providing this no-holds-barred space, the school allows the students to take initiative and discover different methods of learning.
In its child-centered learning model, Shore’s independent study program gives upper school students the option to explore a topic of their choosing over the course of one to three terms with guidance from a faculty or staff mentor. Final project subjects have spanned from fashion design and robotics to cheese-making and building a quadcopter. Similar to Shore’s service learning program that seeks to garner participation in the community and beyond, the school focuses on letting students assume leadership and control within a safe space and assisted by school professionals.
When considering private schools, look for schools that value innovation as more than a trend. Have they changed their curriculum in recent years to accommodate technological advances? What diverse programs do they offer for students? How will they equip your child to face a new world? If your school has an answer for all of three questions, it just might be the perfect place for your family.
For more information and to schedule a tour of Shore Country Day School, visit www.shoreschool.org.
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