Paradigm High School is unique in that it has deliberately attempted to make a challenging education accessible to all students. We have done this by coupling it with proven tools that make learning more reachable. These tools include the following:
Youth who participate in mentoring relationships experience a number of positive benefits. In terms of educational achievement, mentored youth have better attendance, a better chance of moving on to higher education, and better attitudes towards school. In terms of health and safety, mentoring appears to help prevent substance abuse and reduce some negative youth behaviors. On the social and emotional development front, taking part in mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. They also feel they get more emotional support from their friends than do youth who are not mentored. At Paradigm Schools our teachers are referred to as Mentors.
We recognize that people learn in different ways, and if they are taught in different ways, they will progress with more understanding and learning. We therefore provide multiple modes of learning for our scholars.
MENTORING FROM ORIGINAL WORKS AND CLASSIC SOURCES
This invites the scholar to become a part of the conversation of the “great ideas,” which has been discussed for millennia by the great thinkers of the world. Standing on the shoulders of these giants, and applying the concepts learned through history to the present, scholars acquire the ability to shape the future and preserve freedom. Paradigm has prepared a strong classics-based curriculum in order to facilitate the great conversation at the school and to direct our scholars directly to unfiltered sources.
SCHOLAR BASED LEARNING, RATHER THAN TEACHER BASED LEARNING
Scholars at Paradigm are expected to “own” their education, proactively shaping their personal mission and facilitating the learning of their fellow-scholars. Our mentors encourage dialogue through Socratic discussion, rather than lecture, and act as guides to encourage the scholars to learn “how to think” rather than “what to think”. Scholars are encouraged to reflect on and solidify their own thoughts by writing in “commonplace” books.
Paradigm teaches that every person has gifts to be developed and to give to the world. Scholars are encouraged to seek out the ways they might each be of benefit to society and to harness their knowledge, power, and talents, and apply them towards this end. Every student at Paradigm Schools is required to take core classes which will ensure a wide breadth and depth of knowledge integral to a liberal arts education. However, each student is also viewed as an individual person with a unique mission. Paradigm seeks to aid the student in identifying and forming that mission, through helping him to understand and capitalize on his strengths and interests and to strengthen those areas of weakness that might hinder the fulfillment of his mission.
This style of learning engages the student in discussion and hands on applications. It applies relevance to educational principles and makes learning come alive. Education becomes relevant when we discover our personal mission and serve others.
FOCUS ON THE LOVE OF LEARNING
The desire to learn is inborn—it is a part of our human nature. Toddlers naturally take on the tasks of learning to roll, crawl, walk and speak; undergoing the pain of knocks and bruises, autonomously practicing manifold hours, without any coercion, force, or external reward. The growth itself is its own reward, and it is sweet! What happens later? Children are placed into “levels” and grades and groups and compared with one another on a minute to minute basis. They learn to value external approval more than the internal joy of growth. We do this almost subconsciously through grading, comparing, rewarding, punishing, and in a million small ways sending the message that the child’s worth depends upon the external approval of others–the teachers, the peers, the tests, the grades, etc. One of Paradigm’s fundamental principles is that every person possesses a divine greatness that defines their inherent worth. We focus on the love of learning as a natural way of life, not as a definition of value. Grading, percentages, leveling, comparing and rewards and punishments are kept at the most basic level possible. Instead, mentors and scholars are taught to self-assess, self-direct, and use their gifts to benefit others.
The advantages of a small school and small class sizes are well documented in many studies. A lower student-to- teacher ratio creates a more personal environment to ensure that no scholar will slip through the cracks and be left behind.
STRONG CODE OF CONDUCT
Scholars, parents, and staff are expected to model a high standard of behavior. Paradigm’s fluid and flexible structure is best suited for disciplined scholars ready to proactively pursue their education. A scholar who requires a high level of supervision and structure is not yet ready for a leadership education.