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How We Learn and Teach

We believe that children (and adults!) naturally want to learn, if offered the right environment. As expressed in our school’s core value of Lifelong Learning, we hold that the search for knowledge, understanding, and truth is an experiential, constructivist, collaborative, and transformative enterprise.

We recognize that people are intrinsically motivated to be authentically engaged in learning by the following psychological forces:

  • innate curiosity and intellectual challenge;
  • the drive for competence or mastery, to be one of those who “can do;”
  • the desire for autonomy and independence;
  • the need to belong and make connections with others.

In order for students to engage in learning, construct knowledge, and acquire requisite concepts and skills, they must be presented with classroom experiences that allow them to:

  • be mentally active, making connections and formulating hypotheses;
  • link new understanding to what they already know;
  • engage in collaboration;
  • participate in in-depth, structured reflection.

Following from these understandings, at PFS we provide the following for our students:

  • a faith in each student’s capacity to learn combined with our commitment to address individual learning needs and styles;
  • an atmosphere of high expectations and low competition;
  • an interdisciplinary curriculum organized around a common theme, planned and carried out collaboratively across the grades through direct, hands-on experiences;
  • open-ended assignments and projects that invite engagement at all developmental and skill levels;
  • a faculty deeply and lovingly committed to the success of all students;
  • a long view of student progress, including a “ramp” of gradually increasing expectations;
  • a high degree of collaboration between teachers and parents.