As educators, it is our duty to help our students learn about themselves, their faith and the world, while also preparing them for the future. Technology, industry and entire sectors are evolving more rapidly, so determining that future is challenging. As society changes, it is incumbent on schools to adapt and reflect the change. It is the vision of the school governance and leadership that this partnership will help usher in a new era of education at Fantis. Our academic goals for students are to:
- think critically and flexibly
- analyze and solve problems
- be self-starters who also work well in collaborative teams
- effectively utilize technology to enhance their understanding
- maintain inquisitive minds with an inherent wonder of the world so learning becomes a natural outcome of curiosity and exploration
As we embark on an exciting chapter with Vanderbilt University, Fantis will be at the forefront of educational best practices, which mirror some of the top performing schools and countries in the world. One key approach will be “phenomenon-based learning,” defined as:
A phenomenon can be an interesting fact or event that can be described and/or explained. These phenomena are studied in the classroom as an anchoring event that provides the impetus for learning. Studying phenomena, rather than just discrete facts, provides the vehicle for students to understand key concepts in an authentic, cross-disciplinary manner. Phenomenon-based learning also allows the teacher to act as a facilitator, helping the students develop explanations, creating and answering questions, analyzing the answers, and communicating their findings.
Teachers will guide student learning across lessons, carefully sequenced within units of study, until they reach deep understanding of fundamental concepts. They will strategically ask pointed questions, while also providing facts, information and learning environments at key junctures, to spur learning. We are also looking at the entire K-8 curriculum holistically, along with the Vanderbilt team, with a focus on creating engaging and relevant learning experiences for students to make connections to the real-world. The result will be for students to obtain a broader, more nuanced understanding of key concepts that crosses disciplines and subjects, with the capacity to transfer and apply their learning to new settings.
What does this mean for preschool? As we know, preschool is the age of wonder and excitement. Many scientists, authors, and artists point to the early years as the font of their inspiration. It is our job to help them discover and nurture that passion. Our early childhood team will be collaborating on how to best implement these practices acquired from the Vanderbilt partnership in their own classrooms, with an eye on enhancing the preschool experience while also preparing them for more advanced learning in primary school.
As the summer begins to wind down, I become more excited about the upcoming school year. We have been carefully planning to enhance all aspects of education and student life at Fantis. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again in September. Have a wonderful and blessed summer.