I often stress to parents that we seek to both educate and form our students. Yes, we teach important content knowledge, but our students will graduate as more than mere competent thinkers. We aim to form virtuous, thoughtful, and ethical people. An example of this approach is how we teach math.
We think about math as more than just a technical discipline at the service of college or career; it is instead a field of study that demands the habit of careful reasoning, the fluidity of creative thinking, and the rigor of logical contemplation. This method begins with our Middle School Math Circle. Open to students in grades 6-8, the Math Circle explores a variety of mathematical topics by posing a question or problem with a low bar to entry but a high ceiling for discovery – some topics are the sorts of problems that graduate students study for their dissertations! The students work together to parse the wording of the problem, model the questions being posed, and use creative reasoning to work towards a solution.
Our high school math curriculum builds on these habits of mind that we teach in the Math Circle. Our math classes demand deep understanding of mathematical principles. When introducing new topics or problems, though, we offer students encouragement and opportunities for applying critical thought and creative reasoning to arrive at a solution. Through this deeper engagement, students acquire an understanding of the logic of mathematical principles and an appreciation for the depth and beauty of mathematics.
Our goal for our students is not that they achieve mere technical competence, but that they form the habits of reasoning and diligence required for both technical success and human fulfillment.