Individual Emphasis and Diverse Instruction
There should be a freedom for each student to ascertain a truth, that is in both a general topic and an individual problem, in a way that makes most sense to them. As with most things, a balance must be present here; there is something to be said for implementing general routines while also stretching a student to be exposed to different styles of learning. A developing mind learns both what style best fits and is challenged in exposure to methods that are not preferred. Understanding that every child has a different mind is a display of respect for their individual identity and worth. They already have the vehicle of understanding; a child “always has all the mind he requires for his occasions; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education and that his education does not produce his mind.” Our responsibility, then, is not to create a child’s mind but to teach him how to use the unique mind he has to understand the truths of this world. There are truths and our students can know them—we desire to teach them how to attain those truths through the methods they are able. Mathematics is an exhibition of strict theorems, clearly shown to be proven through analysis. And though there are recommended ways of doing, these are not exclusive and we must foster the ability for students to be creative in ascertaining those truths.
A Holistic and Integral Presentation
The temptation of using a textbook is to jut from one mathematical axiom to the next, with little-to-no explanation of why one is engaging in such problem-solving, how it applies to the greater mathematical goal, what skills are being used and built upon, or why a topic is important. This would not only be improper but destructive; a student would not only digress in his ability to see mathematics as a holistic subject but he would quickly lose his joy for learning. Mathematics is a holistic and culminating subject —what we learn in Form 1 is a foundation built upon even in Form 5 and beyond. It is essential that students are taught not only the how but also the why behind instruction and practice if we expect them to reason in math and all other subjects. Mathematics is a study that operates in tandem with other studies— oiling the analytical engine of mathematicians and historians alike. Lorien Wood students are led in this belief, learning math as a language rather than an arduous obstacle course of ones and zeros. Whenever an instructor is able, they should strive to incorporate historical, artistic, and scientific connections to further enrich a student’s understanding. Mathematics is not solely an instruction of hard skills but a lens with which we see the world— and it is in the mastering of this lense that students find purpose in their education.
The Joy of Analysis
There are instances where answers must be freely given to students and moments where leading a student to the answer is appropriate. For the most part, however, a student learns the how from being shepherded in the way they should think. In addition to the aforementioned factors, an essential aspect of learning mathematics is a child’s ability to discover the answer on their own. Analyzing in math is truly an art that may be learned through practice and should be applied to all other subjects. This often looks like an instructor illustrating a concept, giving students opportunities to demonstrate the topic with the instructor’s observation, and then, individual work to practice the concept in question. Though catchy phrases can at times help students remember certain actions, an instructor’s demonstration should reveal the why behind the concept and should illustrate step-by-step problem-solving. With this technique, students learn to break down impossible problems into achievable steps. In the words of Gottfried Leibniz, they come to understand,“[w]hen a truth is necessary, the reason for it can be found by analysis, that is, by resolving it into simpler ideas and truths until the primary ones are reached.” The student then experiences the satisfaction of coming to a conclusion on their own and pulling on their cumulative knowledge to do so.
IN THE EARLY DAYS of Lorien Wood, the founders sought to articulate a model of education that was based on biblical truths and reflected a unique educational culture which values a thirst for knowledge, a desire for God, and a heart for others. This approach reveals the fundamental integral nature of the world, breaking down boundaries between both subjects and people as a means of understanding the world God has created. Through the founders’ thoughtful, prayerful work, our seven Distinctives emerged as the foundation for the beauty and joy that is Lorien Wood.
Do you know what our seven Distinctives are? Here is a quick overview:
First and foremost, we are built on the solid foundation of a biblical worldview. This is the conviction that all truth is God‘s truth and that all areas of Lorien Wood’s school life are to be understood in the light of the word of God.
Our strong biblical foundation leads us to understand that excellence in education requires parents to see themselves as part of their children’s community of learning. They should be ready and willing to assume a high level of parental involvement.
Not only should parents be deeply involved in the life of the school, but we believe parents should pay for their child’s education, while sharing that burden with those who cannot afford to pay within our tuition-based financial policy. A significant portion of all tuition is set aside for this purpose. We believe that a school should seek to operate within this tuition-guided budget so as to minimize the distractions common to fundraising.
We use an integral curriculum and see it as a full-range of academic subjects presented in thematic units of study
conveying the interconnectedness of God‘s created order. Breaking down the traditional boundaries between disciplines reflects the reality and excitement of the world in which we live. Our faculty-developed curriculum emphasizes primary sources; great civilizations; inquiry-based science; and timeless literature, art, and music.
We are encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge that the Distinctives are driving the good work the Lord is calling us to do.
We engage with our integral curriculum through a teaching approach that infuses elements of the classical tradition with a Charlotte Mason perspective of the child as a learner. We call this “Teaching Grounded in Classical Study and Joyful Discovery.” Our methodology incorporates lectures, coaching, and seminar discussions for developing intellectual skills and for enlarging the grasp of ideas and values. We engage the whole person with hands-on experiences, living books, recitation, narration, nature and picture studies.
In addition to academic work, we importantly aim to cultivate in the hearts of our students the ideals of biblical character development including discernment, kindness, humility, integrity, joy, responsibility, diligence, and selfcontrol. We encourage evidence of growth through faculty-student conversations, purposeful classroom management practices, and the study of role models in Scripture, history and literature.
With an emphasis on respect for each child within a supportive environment, our small, mixed-age classes are designed to identify and develop each child’s unique abilities while providing the freedom to progress at an appropriate pace. It is our great privilege to partner with parents as we nurture the uniqueness of each child.
I am regularly in awe at the beautiful ways our seven Distinctives play out in the daily life of Lorien Wood and am grateful for the strong foundation they continue to be for our school. Even as we journey through transitions (big and small) this year, we are encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge that the Distinctives are driving the good work the Lord is calling us to do.
Throughout the coming months, the Board of Trustees will be looking at each Distinctive, one per month, and considering the “most important thing” about each one. We will be answering questions such as, “Why don’t we sell wrapping paper to benefit our school?” “Why do parents have to contribute 108 hours of involvement each year?” “What exactly is Integral Curriculum?” etc.
We welcome your questions to help guide our considerations. If you are new to Lorien Wood, or have been here for years, but wonder why we “do” school and learning in our unique ways, please email me your questions. It is the hope and prayer of the Board and myself that this review will build your understanding and connection to the ideas and philosophy that undergird all that we do at Lorien Wood. ❖