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

Progressive 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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Critical Thinking

Three preschoolers run and jump in the gym

Fostering Critical Thinking Skills with Structure and Freedom

by Sia Haralampus, Beginning School Kindergarten Teacher

From a young age, children are capable of thinking critically and deeply about their world. Developmentally, their primary task is to figure out the patterns of the world, to gather information, and to make connections.

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Responsible Action

Middle School Students writing questions on a board

Participating in the Life of the Country

by David Ellenberg, 8th Grade History Teacher

Educating for democracy is at the heart of much social studies teaching, and it’s where I start with 8th graders in the fall of each year. Regardless of previous topics they’ve confronted, pieces of history they've learned and forgotten, or the political leanings of their families, all young people need to understand their rights, and to consider the responsibilities of citizenship.

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Spirit of Inquiry

Authentic Exploration and Original Thinking

by Aline Garcia-Rubio '93, Head of Upper School

In teaching through inquiry, teachers recognize our students’ desire to engage in a life of rich thinking and applied understanding. They thus design and refine courses that aim to build skills and knowledge while inspiring students’ curiosity and enjoyment of learning.

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Creativity

Using Creativity to Triumph Over Adversity

by Bob Sauer, Upper School Science Teacher

There is great joy and satisfaction in creatively solving problems, gaining insight into the way the world works, and figuring out how to fully integrate oneself into its marvelous machinery. I model and foster this attitude and behavior for students in the classroom when I can, but it really comes in to play beyond the confines of the campus. 

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Athletics

baseball players

Many Factors at Play

by Ken DuBois, Editor

Athletic pursuits at Catlin Gabel are encouraged as part of the whole child approach to education, and students embrace the opportunity: Over 80% of Middle School students and close to 70% of Upper School students participate on Catlin Gabel teams. They like to compete, and they play to win.

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