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What Goes Into the Classroom?

Authored By: 
Ian Rusten, History teacher

Many of us are looking for a school with classrooms where students and adults seek the truth, expand their minds by embracing challenging ideas, and build empathy by seeking to understand the ideas of others.  As a result of my over twenty years of experience as a history, government, and economics teacher, I have come to believe that students should believe the material they learn matters and that their education has a purpose. They should also recognize that knowledge is a great power – the power to become critical thinkers who learn new ideas and perspectives, who listen deeply and thoughtfully respond.  I believe that schools should provide an opportunity to learn through the exchange of ideas and dialogues, because this is how classrooms thrive. To achieve this, I believe classrooms must be rooted in trust and encourage participation & cooperative learning, as well as high expectations. When students play an active role in their learning, they are more inclined to learn and understand that what they think and say is important and that their words matter.

I believe students must also feel free to express their beliefs and take risks. Students must also be challenged to think in new ways. Therefore, I believe that a school should offer a rich curriculum that takes into account the experiences of students as well as the cultural diversity of the classroom and the world around us, and that helps to create connections between students' own lives and the lives of the peoples and societies that they study. I believe that this approach is how we create empathic students and global citizens.