What is Thematic Education?
In a nutshell, progressive education emphasizes “learning through discovery,” and Thornton-Donovan does this like no other school.
Our students learn about a piece of history or a part of the world during the school year, then at the end of the year, they go! The entire Middle and Upper schools literally take education on the road. This is not an isolated, stand-alone experience; the courses of study and the themes selected each year are designed to pick up important threads of the prior years’ study experiences. For example, the interconnectedness of Brazil, Portugal and South Africa (studied in 2008-2010) was celebrated through careful course planning. This weaving of themes offers our young minds a sophisticated way to see and think about the world.
For the 2016-’17 school year T-D will voyage in our minds, and in the spring T-D will fly with the condors over Peru and Ecuador and enjoy an Andean adventure unlike anything a text or video can portray. The music and art, history, politics, and literature of Latin America will be woven together in an elegant way with wonderfully specific electives. Learning, therefore, is absorbed organically.
Remember that at Thornton-Donovan, education is customized. In addition to reading, writing, math and sciences, from middle school on courses are selected based on interest and ability, not grade level. Students are encouraged to try the new theme-based yearly courses, to go deeper into an area of interest. Perhaps this year will include a class about Venetian glass, in which case younger students may be challenged with primary source materials on the subject together with their high school classmates. This applies to the regular curriculum as well; if she is capable, a 6th grader may find herself doing calculus with a 10th grader; if he has the talent and the desire, an 8th grader may play an instrument alongside a senior. This mixing of the grades allows for dynamic class discussion, mentoring of younger students, and a feeling of freedom and opportunity for our youngsters.
Our school offers an intimate and exciting academic community with thematic education at its core. This exceptional environment attracts an international group of dynamic and enthusiastic teachers.
In short, at T-D faculty and students consider themselves world citizens, and each year distinguish themselves as ambassadors for our school and nation.
Individually focused, globally engaged.