It is now part of a normal day in GFA’s Upper School for students to move frequently between student-centered and often student-led discussions in seminar style classes, to individual and innovative research, some of it online.
Becoming a member of the Global Online Academy (GOA) and the addition of a concentration in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) on top of the concentration in Global Studies, has allowed GFA to offer multiple opportunities for students to pursue their interests and passions in innovative ways.
Picture a student speaking in Arabic with his instructor, who is teaching from the International School in Jakarta, or another student taking a course in Advanced Statistics and Data Science collaborating with a student from Grinnell College. In another room, we might see students around a Harkness Table discussing Hamlet or debating the wisdom of Wilson’s League of Nations proposal, or in the science wing, a small group could be researching marine life in the wet lab, or perhaps a group of seniors are gathered, using social media in a simulation of the crisis in Syria in their International Relations course.
Students pursuing individual science research might study horseshoe crabs or ocean pollution. Students writing a global thesis might address a particular global issue such as Recovering Child Refugees to their Communities through Mobile Phones, or The Berber Ceiling: Social and Linguistic Reform in Morocco, or The Copper Curse: Mining’s Challenge to Pastoralism in Mongolia.
Behind the deep and broad curriculum at GFA lie students’ passions, driving them to pursue particular interests either in a more traditional classroom setting or through innovative programs. PreK-12, GFA stretches students intellectually, pushing them to make connections across disciplines, ideas, and global themes.
I believe firmly in our students learning and using essential 21st century skills. The abiding intellectual legacy that our students take with them will be these skills, developed through the true intersection of science and humanities. Students experience tradition with a pronounced innovative edge: communication across networks, collaboration nationally and across the globe; the ability to manipulate information and often disparate data; a capacity for close reading, critical and independent thinking, clear and effective writing, quantitative and scientific reasoning, along with the ability to discern and to synthesize.
In 2014, GFA truly embodies tradition with an innovative edge.