Philosophy of Education
The word education comes from the Latin verb educare, which means “to lead out or draw forth.” An underlying principle within educare—fundamental to Presidio Hill School's philosophy of education—is that children come to school with previously developed interests and skills. The task of the school is to know the child well and build on those interests and abilities, leading each child to ever-expanding circles of knowledge, responsibility, understanding, social competence and skill development.
Another key aspect of progressive education is encompassed by what John Dewey, a progressive educator at the turn of the last century, called “preparation for living in a democracy.” Under this umbrella falls our emphasis on social justice, inclusion and diversity, community service and global stewardship. Students are asked to demonstrate care and compassion for others and learn to work and contribute in a cooperative and collaborative environment.
At Presidio Hill, these and other key tenets of progressive educational philosophy are embraced by a well-trained and exceptionally committed and creative faculty.
- Educating the whole child
- Respecting developmental needs
- Focusing on understanding
- Encouraging active engagement
- Providing a safe and brave environment
- Emphasizing process over product
- Teaching in integrated, thematic units
- Learning in cooperative groups
- Embracing diversity
- Celebrating creativity
- Creating community
- Promoting freedom and responsibility
- Offering a broad curriculum
- Fostering relationships
- Educating the heart and mind
Teaching at Presidio Hill School
Presidio Hill School teachers create a culture of expectation and inspiration for their students. They understand the inevitability of change and have in their power the ability to shape that change to the advantage of their students.
Presidio Hill teachers also understand their responsibility to keep learning as they grow and develop alongside their students. We aspire to be not a community of the learned, but rather a community of learners. The teaching methodology is grounded in progressive tradition and includes the following elements:
- Make decisions with the child's best interests as the primary consideration.
- Are constructivist in their orientation, believing the children need to construct their own meaning from the work at hand.
- Create thematic, interdisciplinary units of study.
- Teach a conceptual, problem-solving, visual, manipulative-based math program (TERC Investigations in the Lower School and CMP3 in the Middle School).
- Teach reading from a balanced, whole language literature-based approach that incorporates phonics instruction in the early grades.
- Use the "writing process" approach to teaching writing.
- Create activities in which children actively "do" science (hypothesizing, collecting data, sharing information, experimenting) rather than merely reading about it.
- Engage students in cooperative learning.
- Use authentic assessment strategies such as portfolios, narrative reports, anecdotal record keeping, rubrics and demonstrations in order to track student learning. We do not give standardized tests to young children. Instead, we have benchmarks for every grade level and subject matter. These benchmarks form the skeleton of student achievement as they mature through the grades.
- Create their own curriculum in collaboration with colleagues. We work largely without textbooks, and those that are in use do not drive the curriculum.
- Are familiar with the use of technology and use it in developmentally appropriate ways with students. Teachers use technology, including the school's website, to communicate with parents.
- Apply modern brain research to their practices in the classroom.
- Plan and implement experiential education elements, closely tied to classroom curriculum. Possibilities include field trips, overnights, outdoor education, environmental education, service learning, and so on.
- Engage students in questions and actions focused on environmental responsibility and stewardship.
- Have an international, global perspective through travel, living abroad, reading, or other means.
- Create multicultural units of study and model a respect for diversity and inclusion.
- Utilize motivation and attribution theory to create an ethos fostering intrinsic motivation.
- Model and teach ethical values and character.