"Safety, respect, expectation, opportunity, vitality, the intersection of heart and mind, the creation of civic space - this should be our public vocabulary of schooling."
Mike Rose, Possible Lives
The Nature of Wightwood
Wightwood School, founded in 1972, is a coeducational elementary school from Pre-K through 8th Grade. The spacious modern classroom buildings occupy rural farm land adjacent to protected wetlands.
The school offers a rich and educationally challenging program in a learning environment that is sensitive and responsive to individual children's developmental needs. The carefully articulated core curriculum in Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science, employs a thematic approach; that is, a single topic appropriate to the grade level is explored through use of all the academic disciplines. Teacher specialists in Art, Music, Spanish and Library provide additional enrichment to all age levels.
Wightwood is a school which has committed itself to small class sizes and consequently strong relationships among faculty, students and parents. It is also a school committed to ethnic and cultural diversity and gender equity. It seeks to graduate students with the skills to pursue successful lives, the values to make a contribution to society, and the resources to enjoy the arts and culture of a diverse world.
These are the principles which direct our teaching:
Learning is a lifelong activity: To be a successful adult, one must first have been a child who has found out that learning is a worthwhile activity which brings rewards: A child's first experience of a classroom activity should be a positive and successful one; making mistakes and learning from them should feel part of that success; and children should be able to see the results of their work in concrete ways that are acknowledged and celebrated.
Every individual finds significant fulfillment as part of a group, and every group benefits from the contribution of every individual in it: Talent and accomplishment should be encouraged, developed and recognized, but a child's place in a group, and what he or she gives to and receives from it, is as much a part of learning as imparting skills and information.
Process is as important as product: Correct answers and acceptably finished work go hand in hand with an understanding of the "why" behind any rule or concept, and also with the freedom and safety to make mistakes. Only in this way can children take ownership of the concepts and skills they need, and be able to apply them to new situations and assignments. This process needs time, because it entails exploration, experimentation, discussion, and sometimes false starts. As the students' skills and understanding increase, so do our expectations of the nature and extent of their correct and finished work.
These are the outcomes we want our students to be able to demonstrate:
That they understand the information we have supplied them with (facts).
That they are able to discover further information on their own (skills).
That they have ownership of the underlying conclusions (concepts).
That they can apply them to new situations (problem-solving).
"Creative thinking and critical thinking are not skills to be taught and learned. They reflect basic orientations toward the self and the world that can be acquired only when children are actively engaged in constructing and reconstructing their physical, social and moral worlds. " David Elkind
Excerpted from the preschool's website