If you teach children what you know, they may remember enough to follow in your footsteps, but if you teach children how to learn, they can go anywhere.
Most of us have memories of traditional elementary school education. Our teachers taught us subjects that we were expected to master; we were tested on our mastery, and then we were moved on to the next class - often without the chance to ever apply the skills or "tools" that we had been taught. Whether what we learned touched our lives and made sense didn't seem to be important.
At City and Country, we are dedicated to encouraging the kind of real learning and thinking that cannot be dictated, but will develop naturally with a carefully planned environment and teachers who support and challenge their students. Our students master the "3 R's," as well as the less-measurable but equally important skills of critical thinking and problem solving, because they have something "real to think about." We create a setting in which meaningful intellectual and social challenges arise naturally - ones that children want and do learn to solve because the issues are real and important to them. In the Lower School, blocks
become a catalyst for learning. In the Middle and Upper School, the Jobs Program
serves as a fulcrum.
Social studies, the core of the curriculum, is concretely expressed by children through the use of blocks in the Lower School; the jobs help to serve this function in the Middle and Upper School. Math, language arts, science and the arts are integrated with these studies as the teachers coordinate among their disciplines.
The term "social studies" is broadly interpreted at C&C to incorporate the study of one's world - the interconnections among people, institutions and society at large. This study is carried out at two levels. On a concrete level, the children, at all ages, are asked to actively study the relationships and responsibility between the group and the individual through whole-group participation in blocks and jobs.
Simultaneously, they study, on a more conceptual level, the world outside of C&C, how it works, and its larger societal connections. The young children study their family, school, neighborhood and the city around them. Older children study the history of a certain time and place for an entire year. The children are continually asked to reflect upon and analyze the lessons to be drawn from comparing the two "social studies."