The Curriculum

 

No matter the path students choose after graduation, we believe that they should be active members of their societies, both locally and globally. Our curriculum is designed to inspire students to be interested and invested in the world around them, but more importantly, it is designed to teach them to be engaged and proactive problem-solvers within that world. Our hope is that by introducing students to the tangible problems effecting their communities, and coupling those problems with forward-looking projects, we can empower students to realize that they have the tools and the potential to make a material difference.

The Paideia Project is founded upon a dissatisfaction with the one-size-fits-all learning approach to which most schools adhere, and a belief in the necessity of flexible curriculum that adapts to the needs of students. We believe that when students are given the freedom to take the lead in their learning, they are more engaged, more invested, and more fulfilled. Our proposal ensures that they master what high-school students across the world are expected to, but in a way that fosters an investigative drive.

Much of current high-school education prioritizes college preparation at the expense of students for whom higher education is not a possibility. This emphasis is at odds with the reality of college tuition, the rising rates of graduate unemployment, and the over-qualification of many college graduates for their first employment. Our curriculum design recognizes this inconsistency and offers opportunity for both college readiness and vocational training, acknowledging the varied ways in which students find value and passion in their education.

 

Ultimately, The Paideia Project envisions students as creative individuals with agency in their own learning. In light of this, we see the project not as a perfected formula to be followed with precision, nor a prescriptive solution to every problem in education. Rather, we offer our designs as a wedge into a broader conversation about making education work for all students. In the coming decades, the next generation will face many issues. Students learning in schools today will mature into a world riddled with global problems. It is our strong belief that we must equip and empower our students to face these challenges head on. 

 


The credit system is designed to ensure our school meets core competencies while giving college-like independence for students to pursue their areas of interest. We chose to require 80 credits within specific areas of study, and give students 40 credits to explore their various passions. 

In order to receive credit, students complete a form and submit it to their advisor. On the form, students indicate the project’s area of study, a brief description of how the credit was completed, and the number of credits earned. Upon advisor approval, credits are granted to the student.

This credit system lends itself to our project-based learning philosophy. It’s possible that a problem project, community project, narrative project, or lab project could satisfy a credit requirement for any area of study. At the end of their high-school careers, students will have a unique progress bar graphic that represents their chosen concentration.


The student government of the school is designed to empower students, provide transparency to the community, and facilitate parent and teacher guidance. We’ve used the curriculum’s project-based approach in designing the student government, and divided it into three branches, mirroring the structure of the federal government. 

Students bring issues to the attention of the student government body, practicing a grassroots approach to community problem-solving. Once an issue has been brought to the attention of the student government, it is either assigned to a standing commission or an ad-hoc commission is formed. These commissions then create policy proposals — solutions for students, by students.

Parental and teacher involvement on these commissions is encouraged. This creates opportunity for collaboration between adults and students in a setting where their opinions are given equal weight. Parents and teachers also have representation in the judiciary committee, which ensures the commission’s policies are in accordance with the school district’s guidelines.