One of the most common questions we get at information sessions or in conversations with families is: “how is it that you are able to teach advanced material to young students?”

History Teacher (at our sister school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn) Matthew Goldman offers his perspective on discussing how his students master high level learning and critical thinking via access points.

“A big part of teaching is finding how to encourage students to see how their own experiences reflect broader societal trends or historical forces.Matthew_Goldman_-_PhotoFor instance, when it comes to teaching students about the compromises made at the constitutional convention, things could get pretty bland. But I start out with a story about ordering pizza with a friend. I’m a mushroom guy, he’s a pepperoni man, we get into a fight, we don’t order any pizza. They clearly understand what we failed to do, they understand the nature of the conflict, and thus relate to the forces behind the compromises made at the constitutional convention. I do these exercises at least once in every class. I show my students that they already have access.

Here at BASIS, teachers recognize that students already understand influential forces. The fact that we are all content experts and masters over the subject we are teaching makes it that much easier for us to find these access points, these hooks to excite students. Non-content experts just simply have more difficulty finding these access points and therefore present information to be consumed superficially and not profoundly connected to student’s daily lives.

These access points are the key to showing students that they are ready to handle more challenge. Students often construct imaginary walls between their own experiences and what they learn in school. We are here to break down those walls.”

Curious to hear more about BASIS Independent McLean? Attend an upcoming event to hear more about our program.