BDS Philosophy of Education
When thinking about our educational approach and strategies at BDS, we must focus on our primary goal. This primary goal, our ultimate purpose, can simply be described as providing an atmosphere that fosters success at the highest level for students that are driven to learn. Once our goal is truly understood, we can begin to analyze the techniques employed. Because student success is at the forefront of our educators’ minds, our ultimate desire is to provide an environment that not only facilitates intellectual growth but also inspires our students to be lifelong learners with a passion for knowledge. To further restate our goal, we can examine the principle motivation for the school. BDS was formed because settling for “good enough” was not acceptable. The belief that children deserve the best education possible is too often an opinion that, while generally agreed upon is seldom fulfilled. The origins of our school derived from the deepest desire to ensure that children would participate in a learning experience that would satisfy this belief. As the main goal was forged during our formative years, we began to examine how we could turn our aspirations into a reality. The following are just some of the ways in which we feel our educational practice exceeds the standards that are prevalent in most educational settings.
Many of our strategies are more apparent than others, and perhaps the most apparent is the use of conceptual units. Conceptual units allow the students to delve into topics and subjects that are often overlooked and discarded in traditional school settings because they would have no detectable impact on standardized testing. But what these schools fail to recognize is that the acquisition of knowledge is not an interrupted, unconnected series of events, but rather the ability of students to amass and connect information from a variety of events and sources in order to create a holistic view of their world. Our belief in our conceptual units is physically expressed in the immersive environments created in the school. Learning is an instinct, but traditional schools have done their best to repress this human quality. The units are a way for us to activate the innate drive to learn in our pupils. This leads us to examine the next goal: Positive reinforcement.
Children are always learning. This does not mean that they are always learning what one aims to teach. We are not only teaching children to perform well academically but also how to act in society and what to expect from society. Many schools struggle between using positive and negative reinforcement. Sadly, many schools choose the latter. For them it offers an easier route to classroom management. Unfortunately, they are trading the student’s ability to be socially comfortable for a regimented strict control. This is not a trade-off that we want or even think is appropriate. We believe students are much more likely to thrive in a self-regulated system. Many schools opt out of strategies like this because they fear their system of control will unravel into chaos. At BDS, we instill in the students a belief that doing good does not go unnoticed, and while students may not yet be able to make a philosophical connection between doing good just for the sake of goodness, it does lead them to act for positive reasons rather than the fear of receiving repercussions. Trust is the foundation of this system. We have experienced a positive reception to this method from the students who value our strong belief in their intentions to do good.
Ensuring the success of the students means the modern-day school must strive to identify the strengths of its students. At BDS we understand that there is not simply one type/style of learner. A plethora of ways in which people perceive and understand the world exist. Educators in the past have relied heavily on only a few of these teaching styles; those being mainly the auditory and visual styles. Other styles such as kinesthetic, social, emotional, etc. are used at BDS to enrich the learning experience. Even if a student is not a particular type of learner, they become versed in the many ways in which they can express and share their knowledge. BDS is a microcosm of the real world; a real world that is comprised of a variety of skilled members that work together to build a strong community.
The skill most sought after in today’s world is one’s ability to problem solve. This entails reacting to changing situations, working independently and with others to complete tasks, being able to identify the small pieces of the “big picture,” understanding how one’s actions can affect outcomes, understanding the power and value of information, and knowing how to access it. BDS was designed to cultivate problem solvers. Many schools have abandoned the effort to create problem solvers for the easier task of creating students that espouse memorized information that is retained for only short periods of time. Our approach is not ill-informed. Educational theorists and philosophers such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Maria Montessori supported an idea that students will perform to meet one’s high expectations. Standardized testing has resulted in lowered expectations and kept the exploration of knowledge at the surface level. At BDS we lack these constraints and understand that the endgame is not six months away during a test, but rather our success will be measured when the students’ abilities come to full fruition.
We believe in our practices whole heartedly. For us this is not simply a job; we view our profession as a spiritual and ethical responsibility. This is not something we take lightly and feel a great deal of responsibility to the students and their families. We are compelled to educate; we are compelled to learn: Through knowledge we connect with one another and strengthen our bond.