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Blyth-Templeton Blog

Lifelong Learning: Thinking Big Picture About Your High Schooler's Success

[fa icon="calendar"] 9/5/18 8:08 AM / by Radha Parameswaran

Radha Parameswaran

At any given back-to-school information night, at any number of schools in Washington D.C., you will hear teachers, faculty, and administrators proudly highlighting the numerous programs and initiatives at their school, all designed to bolster your child’s college resume and help them get into the university of their dreams.

But you won’t hear that same speech at an information night at Blyth-Templeton Academy (BTA).

Now, these options are not necessarily bad things - there is certainly merit in extracurricular activities, academic clubs, and test prep - and at BTA, we offer plenty of ways for students to experiment with these things. However, we believe that the four years in high school provide a unique opportunity to offer students more. There is an opportunity here to shape young people into lifelong learners, striving for not only academic, but human excellence.

We recognize the importance of a well-rounded graduate, with a diversified college application, but we also believe that there is a better way to get there than the traditional approach.

Traditionally, our education system has emphasized funneling students straight from high school into college, only to turn around and feed them immediately into the workplace. This approach stems from an outdated educational model that was born out of the industrial era and prioritizes uniformity and meeting standardized benchmarks over individualized development, unique patterns of learning, and diversified measures of success.

Our Approach to Life-Long Learning and the High School Years

At BTA we approach high school education differently. Our students thrive academically, while developing a critical passion for lifelong learning, the foundation of which is a balanced and challenging curriculum. Skilled, hands-on, experiential teaching in small classes engages students and produces learning outcomes that are meaningful and long-lasting.

Place-based learning that is centered within and dependent on the community, is essential to helping students grow in their understanding of learning as a lifelong endeavor, and also encourages empathy for the world around them.

Colleges Are Shifting Their Admissions Priorities

By focusing on adopting an attitude of lifelong learning, as opposed to learning for the sake of getting admitted to a certain school, students are naturally more creative, inquisitive, and forward-thinking — all skills that are desirable to top-notch colleges. In fact, a 2017 report revealed that some of the most desirable traits college admissions officers looked for when making decisions, were not a student’s ability to perform on a test, or even their volunteer or work experience. Rather, the ability to think and work independently, an inquiring mind, passion for their chosen course subject, and a positive attitude toward study topped their list.

Your Child’s High School Education Should Be Preparation for Life

These findings bolster our deep-seated belief that a high school education is not just preparation for college, or a profession - but preparation for life. To better accompany our students, we are asking ourselves important questions like: How can we nurture goodness? How can our education model inspire students to grow in areas of personal character and human excellence? How can it make the world a better place? How do we encourage and enable young people to follow their hearts and do extraordinary things — yet do them not as a means to an end, but to do them with authenticity?

This is one of the advantages of the micro-school approach. We are in a position at Blyth-Templeton to continually ask ourselves these questions, evaluate our response, and make both minor and major corrections as we go. Unlike traditional high schools, we don’t have lengthy bureaucratic procedures or lots of ‘red tape’ that can make it difficult to effect the quick change necessary to better meet our student’s needs.

College Success Is Not Opposed to Life-Long Learning, the Order Matters

College success and lifelong learning are not opposed to each other, but the order of priority matters. If young people are focused on understanding their gifts and how they can use them in a way that brings them joy and serves others — they will be set on a path of purpose, and success in their postsecondary education, career, and life will organically follow. Upon graduation, we strive to empower BTA graduates to be creative thinkers and effective communicators, welcoming challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement, not as obstacles designed to make them fail.

There is a big difference between doing more and being more. We don’t think young people necessarily need more on their already full plates, but we do see an opportunity to help them be more. An attitude of authentic, lifelong learning enables students to think outside of themselves and their own personal gain. It prioritizes the values of respect, integrity, and a striving for excellence. We encourage students to maintain a balanced lifestyle with regard to family, academic, and social responsibilities.

Come and See How BTA Is Making High School a Time of Personal Transformation

It is easy to get caught up in the competitive hustle that is characteristic of the Northern VA/Washington D.C. area, and to lose sight of the big picture. We invite you to check out Blyth-Templeton Academy and to let us show you how we are using this place in each high schooler’s journey as an opportunity for transformation, in both their personal growth in human excellence and in their future academic success.

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Topics: lifelong learning, student-centered learning

Radha Parameswaran

About Radha Parameswaran

Radha Parameswaran is Head of School and teaches Science and Mathematics for Blyth-Templeton Academy. Radha has a B.A. in Chemical Physics from Barnard College, Columbia University, an M.S. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, and a M.S.T. in Adolescent Education from Pace University. She has taught at the lower school, high school, and college level.

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Blyth-Templeton Academy voted a top DC high school for 2018 by readers of the Washington City Paper