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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Educational Philosophy called Paideia

Three years ago, the K-12 magnet school in Clairemont turned to an educational philosophy called Paideia, a relatively rare approach that emphasizes freewheeling seminars, personalized projects and critical thinking. Lectures are frowned on. Nobody has the one right answer. Muir's immediate goal was to get students more engaged in class, but the method has a broader aim -- to teach kids to think, read and write critically all their lives.

Paideia methods echo popular techniques used with gifted students, but Paideia schools for all kids are scarce, especially on the West Coast. Paideia fans complain that government emphasis on standardized tests has thwarted schools from developing deeper skills like critical thinking that Paideia promotes. The term is derived from the Greek for "upbringing a child."

But as legislators try to rewrite No Child Left Behind, President Obama is pushing for better ways to measure schools, including advanced skills like critical thinking. In San Diego, honing skills like creativity and communication is one of the few things the fractured school board agrees on.

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