Curriculum at State College Friends School
Educational Principles and Overview
Some things just can't be learned from a textbook. The true test of a good tomato is the feel, the texture and taste. And the true test of a gardener is how she demonstrates her love for the seed, the soil, the fruit. The gardener will know when he has learned enough . . .
At Friends School, we believe that education is a lifelong journey. It is an individual journey and it should be an energetic journey full of discovery and achievement. Through the use of innovative and inclusive teaching strategies, we seek to inspire each student to learn and apply knowledge. We seek to develop creativity, critical thinking skills and a compassion for life in each child. Children are naturally curious and their education should be a process of exploration and self-discovery where each student is encouraged to build skills and knowledge through working with teachers and other students.
Recognizing that pace, mode and style of learning is different for each student our teacher strive to present the curriculum in several modalities. We also understand that education is much more than academic achievements and place importance on all aspects of a child’s growth including their social, emotional and spiritual sides. It is this individual attention and emphasis on the growth of the whole child that sets Friends apart.
Our program is vigorous. We encourage each child to think deep and develop schema on their own. We want them to apply their knowledge, to develop a theory based on the presented facts and their reasoning and then evaluate their thinking through further study. It is through this vigorous cycle of presentation, practice, performance and-evaluation that true knowledge is acquired and deep understanding occurs.
Our curriculum is developmentally appropriate and is often integrated between subject areas. Each teacher has the opportunity to develop lessons and based on the interest of students and their expertise-areas of natural interest. Currciulum is deep and can be accessed from a variety of entry points. More than understanding and knowledge our curriculum strives to develop independent application of knowledge and skills to new, real life learning situations.
As an independent school, we do not participate in standardized testing. Understanding is the ultimate assessment of performance and the thread that ties together planning and assessments.
Our Teachers and Classrooms
"Teachers are optimists. We would not be teachers if we did not have confidence in the future and in humankind. We trust that given the right opportunities children will grow up into responsible adults capable of making good choices and of saving the world from disaster. Perhaps the most important thing we can do today is to transmit to our pupils that sense of hope... The two qualities which are most important to children of today are hope and imagination. Hope to believe they can change the world they live in and imagination to find ways to do so. "
Janet Gilbraith, in Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity, by Catherine Whitmire, 1986
Since our founding in 1980, State College Friends School has emphasized the educational principles of understanding, depth, and experience.
By understanding we mean a child's ability to apply his or her knowledge and skills to new problems and situations. Understanding is more than just academic preparation and the accumulation of knowledge; it is the fullest expression of achievement. Understanding is the evidence that demonstrates a child's independence and self-directedness as a learner.
By depth we mean the thorough and unhurried immersion into an interdisciplinary topic, including its factual information, overarching concepts, and its connections to other aspects of the student’s world. By going deep, students learn about a topic in a significant way. They learn how to go deep in any subject to reach true understanding.
By experience we mean learning by doing. The teacher’s job is to provide real and meaningful opportunities for discovery, practice, and understanding. At Friends School, we would not complete a worksheet on the water cycle; instead, we would observe and record the weather, experiment with condensation and evaporation, sing the Water Cycle chant, visit dry riverbeds, and journal the life stages of a snowball.
I want my daughter to be able to figure things out and be able to really research things that satisfy her curiosity, not just memorize facts for a test. The true indication of success is how she sees herself as a thinker, problem solver, and contributor in the world.
Gifts to Support the Work of Our Teachers
Your generosity through a gift to the Annual Fund and various endowment funds supports the rich programs and curriculum developed by our talented teachers and staff. Gifts to the Annual Fund supplement tuition, allowing us to prioritize the needs of our school to best serve students.
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