The Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow 2.0Educating all students through a tradition of excellence and innovation
A Classical education in the progressive tradition has been, and continues to be, the hallmark of a Scarsdale education. It honors the academic disciplines and individual departments: English, Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, World Languages, Art, and Music. This is coupled with progressive practices that embrace the holistic intellectual, emotional, and physical development of children and youth. This is our clear strength and serves to develop students who are confident and capable 21st Century learners, who become informed and contributing members of society.
In recent years, many respected educators raised questions about whether “seeking to inspire lives of contribution in the liberal arts tradition” would be sufficient to prepare students to be successful given the many changes that were emerging around the globe in technology, the environment, and innovation, to name a few.
For many years the Scarsdale Schools vision statement was guided by three overarching goals:
Love of learning
Global Interdependence: preparing students for success in an increasingly interdependent world
In 2008, the vision was updated and called A Scarsdale Education for the Future. Since 2008, we’ve been using this document internally to refocus our curriculum, to foster conversations about critical and creative thinking and non-standard, complex problem solving, and to give students new opportunities to deepen and strengthen their learning.
In 2012, we wanted to make the community more aware of our efforts and renamed our document The Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow to emphasize the timeliness, and really the urgency of our work. At that time it was recognized that a global revolution in innovation and technology was changing people’s lives and education forever. Across America, there was concern that public education had fallen behind in producing achievement-oriented talent. At the same time, there were and continue to be fewer long term jobs, and job requirements are changing as employers look for a new breed of initiators and innovators with global competencies. The Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow was recast to resonate with our community by representing learning as three categories: what students know, how they think, and how they act.
The goals included: (1) to advance student knowledge with globally competitive skills and experiences while fostering a love of learning; (2) to empower our students to think critically and creatively, (3) to learn independently and persevere; and (4) to inspire them to collaborate, embrace diversity and make positive contributions locally and globally.
In order to accomplish these goals we have taken a three-prong approach. First, we have developed new courses and content, including Singapore Math, Advanced Topics, FLES, Mandarin, and Science Research. Additionally, we have utilized new approaches to student learning including interdisciplinary problem-solving inquiry science, collaboration, and student voice. Collectively, these changes have provided opportunities for students to know, think, and act on real life problems in a deeper way. In doing so, our students are thinking more critically and creatively, utilizing multiple approaches to solve problems, and reflecting on their own experiences as learners.
We know from anecdotal evidence that our efforts are making a difference:
The parent who tells us a Scarsdale education is what adds value to his children’s lives, and what gives value to the community and homes.
The graduate who says that compared with her college peers, she feels incredibly well-prepared to succeed.
The Dean of Admissions at Harvard says Scarsdale “is in the fortunate position of drawing on a tradition of academic excellence and broad community support.”
Dr. Sheridan Blau, Chair of the Dept. of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University says, “I have never seen a school district engaged in such groundbreaking work: setting an audacious vision; realizing it through self-study and collaboration; opening up its frame of reference to the larger world; and modeling throughout this process the very 21st Century practices it hopes to instill in its students…Scarsdale's work is a model for us all.”
We also have more objective evidence. 99% percent of each senior class attends college; 95% go to four year colleges, and over 60% are accepted at the most competitive colleges in the nation, putting Scarsdale in the top fraction of the top one percent of all schools in the country.
Our history of excellence, combined with a tradition of innovation, give value to this community and its children. We believe it’s essential to remain true to both traditions and continue to enhance a Scarsdale education, so it will serve today’s students tomorrow, even better than it has in the past.
So, our collective challenge is how to represent the relationship and balance between all that has worked in the past, while preparing ourselves and our students for an increasingly complex future:
Said another way, we know we have and value a Classical education in the progressive tradition. At the same time, we recognize the expectation, need, and value of the following elements in a 21st century education:
Classical Education Taught in the Progressive Tradition