upper school french class students seated on classroom floor laughing
Student-Centered Education

Where individual choice drives the experience of learning

 

first grade woodshop class
Student-Centered Education

Where individual choice drives the experience of learning

Student-Centered Education at Catlin Gabel

Progressive education places students at the center of the educational experience, where they are encouraged to pursue their interests and exercise their natural curiosity. In this way, children become active learners, as teachers guide them to discover the pleasures and rewards of education and develop into adults for whom learning is a lifelong pursuit.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a process by which students learn through a cycle of direct experience, reflection, analysis, and experimentation. It encourages deep learning, inspires personal growth, and promotes active citizenship.

  • Student-directed, teacher-guided, student-choice
  • Students apply knowledge and skills
  • Trial and error, and failure as part of the learning process
  • Authentic purpose and meaning-making in real world context
  • Rubric and demonstration-based assessments
  • Opportunities to reflect and make sense of the experience

Teaching the Whole Child

Teaching the whole child means knowing and nurturing individual children and designing learning opportunities that honor and develop their full identities so they can thrive now as children and grow into happy and fulfilled adults.

  • Teacher curiosity and interest in students’ whole selves
  • Children and families are known and valued
  • Safe and trusting relationships are nurtured
  • Differentiated and responsive approaches with opportunities for student-directed learning
  • Children are represented in the curriculum, in the classroom, and in the adults on campus
  • Growth and support of students’ physical, emotional, academic, ethical, and interpersonal skills is cultivated
  • Opportunities are provided for children to learn in a variety of settings and modalities

Inquiry Based

Inquiry based education incorporates student questions, fosters curiosity, and fuels the desire to keep learning. It’s based on the belief that asking good questions leads to success and happiness more than having all the answers.

  • Creative, multiple perspectives, and original thinking
  • Generative (students generate questions and paths to pursue them)
  • Iterative process through which students learn
  • Reflective (analyze outcomes and process, incorporate into next learning cycle)

Educating for Democracy

Educating for democracy equips students with the mindset and skills to increase their self-awareness and understanding of complex issues, with the goal of taking responsible action in their communities.

  • Creative, multiple perspectives, and original thinking
  • Generative (students generate questions and paths to pursue them)
  • Iterative process through which students learn
  • Reflective (analyze outcomes and process, incorporate into next learning cycle)
  • Fostering empathy and awareness of others, including those with differing experiences and viewpoints
  • Developing a sense of agency and voice
  • Building the knowledge and skills necessary to be informed, participatory, and engaged community members
  • Engaging in discourse about power and privilege

Beginning and Lower School

Students are given the space and time to be young—and inspired to be big—as they build their agency and capabilities. Teachers attend to each child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

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MIddle School

Students are part of a community that encourages them to find their voices and build their capacity. They are encouraged to stretch their thinking, practice empathy, and learn with purpose.

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Upper School

Students develop as critical thinkers who communicate effectively, have agency, can deal with complexity, and know how to learn. Students are inspired to learn about themselves and the world.

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Spirit of Inquiry

Students Collaborating

Developing Life Skills Through Science Education

by Marguerite McKean ’04, Upper School Physics Teacher

I think that physics, and science in general, are very good places to learn how to ask questions. Instead of shutting me down and saying, I don’t know how to do that, I can say, How do I solve this problem?

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Creativity

Student making Letters

Unleashing Creativity by Giving Students a Problem to Solve

by Phil Robinson, Middle School Visual Arts Teacher

This is a safe space; I never tell a kid “no.” If they're trying to create something and they're getting frustrated, we talk about problem solving: How do you solve that problem within the medium?

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Critical Thinking

A Hallway Filled with Pictures

Interdisciplinary Study: The Holocaust Unit

by Holly Walsh, 8th Grade English Teacher, and Zale Clay, Middle School Social Studies Teacher

Humans are interesting creatures. They can be beautiful in one moment and heinous in the next. As students enter their teen years, they become intrigued with this polarity of behavior and wonder where they sit on the morality scale of “good” and “bad.”

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Critical Thinking

A Teacher Engaging with Students on their Laptops

Helping Students Understand Today’s World by Engaging with the Past

by Peter Shulman, Upper School Social Studies Teacher

It's about creating the hunger to learn more, and to get their footing and find their voice regarding a very dynamic, complex world. I hope all of the students will participate as informed citizens.

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Spirit of Inquiry

Young Student with her hand raised

Rigor in Math Education

by Anna Blakeslee, Lower School Math Specialist

We are challenging students to be problem solvers, be flexible in their thinking, and understand mathematics from different points of view. We want them to see the problem, understand it, and pick the strategy that is most efficient to solve it.

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