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Whole Child Education
"We are born creative, curious, engaged and whole. We can be anything we want to be, because no one has yet told us that we can’t."
The core of our mission and vision for BRIDGES Charter School is the education of the Whole Child.
What is Whole Child Education?
Whole Child education seeks to nurture the development of the whole person, so that every child can feel challenged, healthy, engaged, safe and supported in his/her school. This type of education comes not just from learning about things, but from experiencing them in the classroom. Educating the Whole Child will encompass and integrate multiple layers of meaning and experience rather than defining human possibilities narrowly. Every child is more than a future employee; every person's intelligence and abilities are far more complex than his or her scores on standardized tests.
The 21st century demands a highly skilled, educated work force and citizenry unlike any we have seen before. The global marketplace and economy are a reality. Change and innovation have become the new status quo while too many of our schools, communities, and systems use models designed to prepare young people for life in the middle of the last century. We live in a time that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, to evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems and communicate well, yet our education systems remain committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is as important as ever, yet insufficient for lifelong success.
These 21st century demands require a new and better way of approaching education policy and practice—a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement. We need to redefine what a successful learner is and how we measure success. At BRIDGES, we believe it's time to put students first, align resources to students' multiple needs, and and educate each day with a more balanced approach. A child who enters school in good health, feels safe, and is connected to his/her school is ready to learn. A student who has at least one adult in school who understands his/her strengths, weaknesses, interests, passions and motivations is more likely to stay in school. All students who have access to challenging academic programs are better prepared for further education, work, and civic life.
*The video below was produced by ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). Founded in 1943, ASCD is an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner. ASCD has developed the Whole Child Initiative which seeks to help educators, families, community members, and policymakers move from rhetoric about educating the whole child to reality.
Is Whole Child Education the same thing as "Progressive Education?"
Throughout this website and on our printed materials, you'll notice the use of the terms "Whole Child Education" and "Progressive Education". Although there are overlapping tenets in both philosophies, they are complimentary, not synonymous.
It is often assumed that "progressive" education is somehow connected to "progressive" politics. This is not the case. The Columbia Encyclopedia has a brief history of the Progressive Education Movement here.
Alfie Kohn, (renouned speaker and author of many books on human behavior, education and parenting) helps to shed light on the more contemporary understanding of the term in the following article.
Progressive Education...Why it's Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find- from Independent School Magazine - Spring 2008