AWAKENING THE LEARNER WITHIN
Some schools look at their students as empty vessels, waiting to be "filled up" with words coming from a teacher standing in front of the classroom. We don't. At the Bronx Charter Schools for Better Learning, we know that every child comes to us already equipped with a remarkable power to learn. Our job is to nurture that power, to let it develop, so it stays strong and vibrant, not only for the next lesson or the next test, but for a lifetime.
Based on the work of educator Caleb Gattegno, our philosophy recognizes that by the age of two or three we learn to speak, perhaps life's most challenging intellectual task. And, we do so essentially by ourselves! That incredible feat is a sure sign of the powerful learner within all of us.
The learner within children can thrive in a school environment or it can atrophy. We do not let the latter happen at our schools. A school day dedicated to drilling and endless memorization can provide children with the "right answers," but these correct answers may come at a great price: a duller mind and a diminished desire to learn. When school days encourage curiosity and exploration, students stay connected to their intrinsic power to learn, and feel the sheer joy that comes from such learning. Those are the days we endeavor to create.
Far from easy, our approach requires a commitment of the teacher to meet each child where he or she is at each moment. Only then can the teacher become aware of how the student is approaching the task put in front of him or her. Our teachers do not interfere with the learning process by supplying answers, asking overly leading questions or depriving the student of the time needed to reflect on the given challenge. Aware of the students’ natural ability to self-teach, teachers provide only what students would not be able to figure out for themselves. In that way our children become responsible for their own academic learning. Of course, they do arrive at the "right answers," but far more important, in the process they develop a better understanding and a sustained awareness of the learner within, which will serve them for the rest of their lives.