SDLAA Philosophy of Education
- Everyone has genius within and a unique purpose that they were born to achieve.
- The purpose of education is to draw out individual genius and purpose. All learning activities should connect to each student's genius or purpose.
- The role of the teacher is to create a safe and engaging learning environment that can foster a love for lifelong learning, build critical thinking skills, and support students as they progress along their personal path.
- The learning needs of students change as they move through stages of cognitive, emotional, and social development. Teaching strategies should be appropriate to developmental stages and learning phases.
- SDLAA employs an "upside down classroom" model, in which live class meeting time focuses on hands-on activities, collaborative learning, and interactive discussions. Background research and assignments are completed independently by students, with teacher support available.
- SDLAA strives to focus on teaching students how to learn, building skills that apply across all content and prepare students for future learning in future education, career, and life.
- Classics in all areas inspire personal development, genius, and critical thinking, and should be included in all stages of learning, in developmentally appropriate ways.
We offer classes, divided into 3 learning stages (rather than grade levels). These categories do correspond with ages & grade levels, but as a guideline rather than a rigid rule. Our classes focus on developing learning strategies and higher thinking with a developmentally appropriate approach. There is overlap in ages and grade levels, because learning stage is based on individual development. Below are general guidelines, but each student's placement is determined by parents, students, and teachers evaluation of the best fit for that student, at that time.
Foundational: These are classes designed for students between 8 and 12 years old, typically functioning at grades 3-6. These classes focus on: developing a love for learning, building students' confidence in their ability to learn, and teaching students a set of foundational learning strategies that they can use as tools throughout their life-long pursuit of learning. In the Foundational Learning Stage, instruction is focused on exposing students to a wide range of topics and in building skills that empower them to be self-learners in later learning stages. This stage focuses on the cognitive skills of knowledge and comprehension.
Preparatory: These classes are designed for students between 11 and 14 years old, typically functioning at grades 6-9. These classes continue to build a foundation of love for learning, confidence, and basic learning strategies, while introducing higher thinking challenges. In the Preparatory Learning Stage, instruction focuses on building advanced learning strategies, such as close reading, note-taking with the support of graphic organizers and concrete structure, writing to learn and promote personal thinking, effective oral communication and collaboration with peers and teachers, scientific observation and proper recording (lab reports), and problem-solving strategies. In this learning stage, students continue to build the cognitive skills of knowledge and comprehension, while expanding into more application tasks. Students also continue to learn about a wide range of topics in order to solidify a well-rounded foundation on which to build in Mastery Learning Stage.
Mastery: These classes are designed for students 13-18, who have a solid Foundational education. These classes are typically high school level, earn high school credit with most charter schools, and help students gain college prep knowledge and skills. Teachers emphasize personal ownership of education, time and study management skills, and sense of personal mission. These classes challenge students to evaluate ideas and begin to formulate their personal allegiances. Instruction is designed to develop higher thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation, and synthesis or creation through tasks such as: analytical reading, transformational writing & speaking, Socratic Seminars, simulations, in-depth science experiments and written reflection in formal lab reports. Content is more focused and explored more deeply than in previous learning stages. In Mastery Learning Stage, the focus shifts from general exposure to students' ability to demonstrate mastery of a topic or skill and transfer of learning to real life and personal mission.