The moral mission of Paideia Academy is to empower the whole-person – body, mind, heart, spirit – through education. The instructional model must support the moral mission of the school. The Paideia instruction and learning model aligns perfectly with this mission.
An important end to the Paideia school is the development of intellectual skills – skills of learning by means of reading, writing, speaking, listening, calculating, problem-solving, observing, measuring, estimating and exercising critical judgement. These skills are the ones everyone needs in order to learn anything, in school or elsewhere. The Paideia Academy uses the following methods to accomplish the end-in-mind goal of intellectual development within the scholar – Authentic literacy, Paideia Seminar, intellectual coaching and didactic instruction.
To understand the Paideia model more deeply, we recommend you obtain and study “The Paideia Program: An educational syllabus” by Mortimer J. Adler.
One of the central cores of the Paideia model is authentic literacy – unprecedented amounts of reading, writing, and discussion grounded in evidence from fiction/non-fiction texts across the disciplines.
Paideia scholars are expected to read an unprecedented amount of classical literature from the early grades. All intellectual activities whether they are based in literature, social studies, science, or math include unprecedented amounts of reading, writing, and discussion that culminate in the Paideia seminar.
Check out the Paideia Academy required reading lists.
Paideia Seminar is a collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated by open-ended questions about a text or topic to increase understanding of ideas and values. This method is more often referred to as the Socratic Method during which the teacher acts as facilitator guiding the students into meaningful dialog.
As questions drive critical thought, the goal of Paideia Seminar is for students to expand their understanding of ideas, concepts, and values about the curriculum through thoughtful dialog rather than by memorizing bits of information.
The Paideia Seminar nurtures intellectual skills by teaching students to ask higher order critical thinking questions of analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
This instructional method nurtures social skills by teaching students the art of speaking and listening within respectful dialog.
This instructional method also nurtures the academic skills of critical, purposeful reading and reflective writing in Paideia Seminar journals. The seminars occur approximately 15-20% of instructional time. Assessment and evaluation of the seminars occurs through pre and post seminar tools and processes including self identified goals, discussion, and writing.
Within the framework of intellectual coaching the teacher is the guide and facilitator through modeling and reflective questioning. It is an artful blend of information, challenge, drill and encouragement, the teacher helps the student see the order and to habituate into the right steps and motions so as to perform these simple intellectual thinking. The emphasis in coaching is on the scholar getting his or her ideas to work accurately and then practicing the skill. Most often, this is a slow, tedious, patience-testing process.
The coaching strategy seeks to develop the intellectual and critical thinking skills of students and culminates in student-led, collaborative literacy-based projects. The goal of intellectual coaching is to raise students towards higher levels of independent critical thinking – evaluating, synthesizing, creating.
Didactic Instruction and Intellectual Coaching
The cycle didactic instruction and intellectual coaching are closely intertwined. While didactic instruction is the delivery of information, intellectual coaching is the artful blend of information, challenge, drill and encouragement. Within the Paideia model of instruction the two methods are not separated but constantly support the other.
Didactic Instruction is the delivery of factual information through teacher led discussion, demonstration, videos, and reading – the acquisition of organized knowledge. The goal of Didactic Instruction is for students to acquire the basic “must know information” about a subject. By acquiring the basic knowledge of a subject, students gain confidence to move to the next level of learning. Didactic instruction focuses on the lower level critical thinking skills of remembering, understanding, and applying. Didactic instruction is a rich and continuous cycle of the following:
- Teach to the Objective – 3 to 5 minutes of direct teacher led instruction
- Guided Practice – scholars are given 3 to 5 minutes in partner or small groups to practice the presented instruction
- Checking for Understanding – the teacher circulates through the room to check for scholar understanding
- Independent Practice – engaged only after nearly all scholars have mastered the learning objectiv
- This cycle is repeated until nearly all of the scholars have mastered the learning objective. Only after nearly all scholars have mastered the learning objective does the teacher engage them in independent practice. There might be a few scholars who have not mastered the learning objective. During independent practice the teacher engages those few scholars in more intensive instruction in a small group setting.