Good schools are staffed by faculty who routinely use the best technologies to challenge students. But truly great schools ignite learning by using the science behind how the brain works best. Great schools:
Promote relationships between adults and students. Many schools are forced to prioritize high test scores over strong relationships. But Molecular Biologist John Medina knows that “our ability to learn has deep roots in relationships.” At Waynflete, mutually respectful relationships between students and their teachers are at our core. In his most recent book, Dan Heischman (also author of Good Influence: Teaching the Wisdom of Adulthood) writes, “In all the many years I have visited schools, I have seen few places where students make such extensive use of teachers as they do at Waynflete. Healthy relationships between adults and students in the community are a given.”
Encourage positive risk-taking. By championing the right answer over curiosity and exploration, many schools train students to be risk-averse. In his new book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, Dan Siegel, M.D., describes how risk-taking is a critical evolutionary task if teens are to acquire new competencies and become independent and confident enough to leave home and flourish. Waynflete understands the importance of promoting positive risk-taking to develop competency and grit.
Focus attention. Our world is increasingly full of distractions, but focused attention is necessary for deep learning. Contrary to popular assumption, according to John Medina, neuroscience research shows “the brain is not capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.” At Waynflete, we cultivate routines that nurture growth and learning and habits that focus attention.
Harness the power of experience. Many schools have abstract and fragmented curricula that don’t prepare students for tangible rewards. But author Daniel Pink cites empirical evidence in his book Drive to assert that “the secret to high performance is…our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to make a contribution.” At Waynflete, school is more than a preparation for the future. We seek to engage our students in such a way that they matter, so that each day has meaning. Our approach leads to motivated and accomplished graduates who are well prepared for any future endeavor.