Newton was right!
We all see farther because we are standing on the shoulders of giants. It is essential that a contributing member of our society have a broad integration of the great contributions of the artists, scientists, writers, leaders and thinkers who have brought us to today.
Investigating how people were puzzled by their experiences leading them to think in a new way, or solve the problem,
or discover the underlying structure is central to continuing the process.
The process of living and growing in many ways is a life-long learning process. We master new skills, acquire knowledge, and explore. Each new skill is built upon previous. Many bright, competent, problem solving students have had a very tough time in school because they did not master one or more pre-requisite skills. The obvious example is the person who did not learn to read very well, then has great difficulty in history, literature and other course that are built on that fundamental skill. But it is much more pervasive than that.
If a person does not master how to balance simple equations in algebra, more complex balancing is nearly impossible in
the remainder of the algebra course, and in the rest of math and sciences.
Experience has shown that usually when a person has trouble “getting it” in a class, the issue is tied to a previously explored skill or topic incompletely learned. Focus on identifying the missing components, mastering the needed skills, and most importantly, insisting on mastery of skills going forward, leads to joyful success.
Mastery is accomplished by including continual evaluation, not to determine the grade, but to make sure skills are well learned and can be applied — mastered. Traditional classroom settings often insist on students being on the same page each day, making it difficult for advanced students to demonstrate mastery and take off, or for bright students needing to fill in gaps to do so. Add a family emergency or health issue and it can be impossible to really catch up.
At Mentoring Academy we structure all courses so that each student can master every essential skill in their curriculum.
Everyone learns. The process for each person, compared to others, is both the same and quite different.
Mastering Appropriate Learning Strategies
It is quite astonishing how much improvement in schoolwork takes place when there is improvement in specific skills: communication, strategies for remembering, taking tests, organizing ideas, or managing time.
Many bright students find reading hard and slow or have difficulty
with math basics. Helping them improve has a powerful impact. Many students (and the rest of us!) often do not plan, organize, nor consider
the consequences of decisions. All these essential skills can be improved with guidance.
Proficiently Using Computer Tools
Much of our work and learning involves being competent in core technologies: computers, creativity tools, basic programming, Internet data mining, and communication tools are all necessary to be proficient in all aspects of learning.
Because so much work is done in groups, the specific set of skills associated with project planning/organizing /execution including project management tools are very valuable in this age. Students need to be able to manage small projects involving multiple steps and several colleagues.
The educational design of the Mentoring Academy is based upon research, experiences in providing Educational Therapy, teaching, school leadership, designing curricula, and the work of many founders and innovators in education.
Although courses are self-paced, school is held in regular time
(9am to 5:30pm). Students complete essentially all work during school hours. Evenings can then be spent with family, friends, or exploring books and personal projects. Because the ratio of students to mentors is low, we are able to keep focused and complete the coursework in the school time.
Students and families trust schools to provide much of the education for life needed by students. While it is agreed that a solid academic experience is essential, we also believe many needed skills do not fall into the standard academic requirements, yet must be central to the curriculum.
At Mentoring Academy we facilitate mastery of a wide range of talents essential in this age, including: acquiring extensive academic knowledge, essential learning and communication skills, employing needed life skills, maintaining social relationships, engaging in healthy physical activities, inventively solving problems, enjoying
an artistic passion and managing self motivation.
We encourage students to explore their passions and become engaged in shaping their own lives.
ESSENTIALS FOR LEARNING
An accomplished student can effectively
Read, listen, watch, feel, touch, and be aware.
Compare, contrast, weigh, see relations, organize ideas, find fallacies, and reach conclusions.
Communicate their work through writing, speaking, group discussions, film, photos, presentations and artistiC endeavors.
Work cooperatively with others in a group setting, to best invent solutions, provide and learn from feedback and learn to collaborate.
Employing Needed Life Skills
Examples of essential skills addressed the Mentoring Academy are:
Planning and executing a meal for four, changing a tire, doing laundry, trip planning, grocery shopping, rewiring a lamp, patching a hole in drywall, sewing, building a stone wall, making health care appointments, growing vegetables and flowers, canning and using essential tools: hammer, saw, power tools, etc.
Maintaining Social Relationships
We are social animals. Developing and maintaining essential, powerful, life-affirming relationships with peers, adults, and siblings are essential skills. At the Mentoring Academy, we learn about what it means to have a successful relationship.
We help students develop supportive relationships with peers, mentors and family members. We explore developmental psychology, social psychology and the wide range of “relationship” thinking for insights into the process. We teach the importance of how we treat each other.
Inventively Solving Problems
Many students think learning is recalling the right answer. It is stuffing all the needed information into memory then finding what is required. Although that skill is important, a more powerful skill set is to start with available information and devise a solution. It takes the known, finds relationships, identifies goals, invents or coordinates solutions, and reaches conclusions that do not come from remembering, but by solving. The skills needed to work this magic are varied, broad, complex and very learnable.
Enjoying an Artistic Passion
A great sense of joy is tied to having an artistic endeavor that we find enjoyable, rewarding, and worth sharing with those whom we love. Basics include thoughtful photography, throwing a clay pot on a wheel, cinematography, painting, silk-screening, making clothes, music, and jewelry. We explore and develop the artistic dimension with a strong commitment.
A major key to success in young people is tied to their sense of control. If a student sees his or her life controlled by outsiders, it is easy to adopt a posture of defeat, attributing to others the responsibility for errors, mistakes and time management. Likewise, when a student takes more control
of his or her own life, they have the opportunity to make the connections between interests, enjoyment, growing and learning.
Engaging in Healthy Physical Activities
We will never have access to any machine as wonderful as the body in which we each live. Committing to physical fitness, engaging in enjoyable exercise, and arranging for regular check-ups are essential skills. The physical component of Mentoring Academy is central.