We are living in an information society. Information is the new capital and material with communication the new means of production. With this as our focus, Oak Hill Academy, a private school, embarks on a very exciting program for our students entitled, “Explorations”. Utilizing our state-of-the-art tech facilities, we offer our students some of the latest tools. These tools assist them to gather information, analyze data, and to draw conclusions. Interacting with electronic media, cooperative learning, and real-life issues, students become challenged with open-ended questions as well as projects which will stimulate their creativity, problem solving ability, and critical thinking. Students experience topics in social studies, humanities, and science, while recording their work in individual portfolios. Presentations in the form of a power-point, lecture, debate, or multi-media vehicle are required.
Active Knowledge Seekers
As an independent school in Monmouth County, New Jersey, our goal is for our students to be active seekers of knowledge in a learning lab environment. This program finds students working with teacher mentors while in groups pursuing topics of personal interest which they have a passion to study. As students move through the “Explorations” process, they find topics of interest which they can work on independently, work through roadblocks and failures, finish a published product, and then finally share with an audience.
In Explorations, there is no lack of access to information; however, the key is to find good information. There is no quick fix, but the benefits pay off in seeing independent, creative, engaged learners. Students refine their communication skills both written and verbal as a by-product. Often learning so many unexpected things from their initial topi results in projects leading to other areas of interest.
Participants consume so much more content than they produce, from videos to articles online to music. This approach helps them learn how to consume well and then produce something worthwhile from it. Gathering new ideas and information is one thing. When students know they must parse all of that into a product, a presentation, a website or something else, it can really focus their effort.
In conclusion, students will be entering a workplace vastly different than that of their parents. Employers will want individuals with the ability to assemble, unify and evaluate information, as well as communicate that information. The best school programs, Oak Hill’s Explorations curriculum, help develop collaborators, writers, critical thinkers and speakers needed by today’s society. Teaching is no longer defined by textbooks. Conversely, real world study keeps curiosity a priority which promotes effective learning environments that stimulate interest and engage all learners.