Loving to learn
The hallmark of Norwood School’s approach to education has not changed in sixty years – enthusiastically engaged students are the best learners. The School’s founder Frances Marsh set a goal that has been met daily for decades, “Children should find school a happy experience and a place they want to come back to.” This idea was formalized in the School’s Mission Statement which maintains, “Norwood’s challenging educational program and broad-based activities are designed to help students experience joy in learning.” Perhaps the best endorsement of this comes from one Norwood parent who observed that she loves how Norwood masks the rigor of the curriculum, which we feel is a great testament to how effective engaged learning can be.
What does engaged learning mean?
It means creating happy learners just as Mrs. Marsh stated, but it is where that happiness comes from that is so crucial to a good education. Fun and games are one way we create joyful learning at Norwood School, but there are some other truly powerful approaches that help our students experience happiness every day: connections – to the material, to each other, to their lives, to others around the world; fascination – following their ideas in all kinds of directions to discover answers and methods and wonder; significance – finding out that their ideas matter and are listened to and respected; meaning – being able to ask “Why?” and to have solutions revealed; relationships – to be a part of a class and a grade and a team that values your contributions; possibilities – all that they can imagine and more unfolds before them year after year, and they want to come back every day.
What does engaged learning look like?
Engaged learning is kindergartners examining a seed and having the resources at hand to figure out what it will be and why it will grow. It is third graders making costumes and rolling hoops and eating traditional foods in their tri-cornered hats for Colonial Day. It is fourth graders digging in a huge sandbox for buried archeological shards in The Big Dig. It is fifth graders using CivCity Rome to create virtual Roman cities of their own based on what they are learning of the ancient civilization. It is eighth graders who have acquired the skills to separate, test, and identify unknown elements in a beaker in the Sludge Project. These highlights and so much more creative and thoughtful work by Norwood’s outstanding faculty engages students in ways that make lessons memorable, keeping our students excited about learning and helping them to retain what the teachers intend.