How we see The Sycamore School
The Sycamore School doesn’t look like a typical school—it occupies a house in downtown London—and, in fact, it isn’t a typical school, which is why families turn here. The students arrive having demonstrated their skills and academic abilities, yet, for a range of reasons, aren’t reaching their potentials in a more traditional learning environment. Instruction is cooperative, allowing students to take responsibility for their learning in consort with their instructors. One of the goals is to motivate learners, and to help them find their own unique paths to success. The ideal student is one who will thrive within a very close-knit, student-oriented setting, and who is capable of operating at the top of his or her peer group.
How The Sycamore School sees itself
"The Sycamore School offers personalized, alternative education recognizing that today’s learners must be capable of independent, flexible thinking in times of continuous change. The school has developed a unique approach in educating students who struggle with anxiety and stress within a multidisciplinary framework that guides positive learning experiences. Small, collaborative, welcoming classes are the standard; courses are taught by subject specialists whose enthusiasm may further spark student engagement."
"Our students work best in the small community atmosphere that they have chosen to guide their path to high school graduation. Students are supported by their teachers and other staff who adapt the learning opportunity to reflect student learning preferences, ambitions and life goals."
"Our students and their families have chosen The Sycamore School for the low student: teacher ratio that is, on average 1:6. Our micro school population ensures a less stressful environment for students and a more co-operative and inclusive atmosphere for those who wish to focus on completing their high school education."
"Students and their families often comment on the atmosphere of caring that they feel in the entire school population … students and staff. There is an easy integration among students and staff of differing grades, ages, genders and cultures that creates a community of learners. Completing assignments at school with teacher assistance enables families to participate more fully in after school activities."
"Since The Sycamore School has worked hard to avoid the traditional school-like setting, students and their parents learn to appreciate the home like surroundings; homeschooling parents refer to TSS as the homeschool away from home. We are proud of that difference."
"Founded in 2012, The (London) Sycamore School is an alternative micro-school with a total yearly enrollment of thirty students, grades 9-12. Student to teacher ratio is 1:6 and all teachers are accredited. Our students choose post-secondary paths according to their interests and to date, five of our total of twelve graduates have been accepted at universities in Ontario, three are attending community colleges, two are working toward trade apprenticeships and two have joined the workforce."
How people from the school’s community see The Sycamore School
Top-down influence on the school’s direction and tone
Cora M. McNamara, Principal & Co-Founder
Learning in the 21st Century requires that schools change with the times. Bodies of knowledge do not stagnate and education must not continue to do so. At the turn of the 20th Century, John Dewey believed that "the teacher should only provide background information and have the students work together in groups on the concept. This should start conversation and discussion, and give rise to valuable collaboration. Although the written exam would continue to play an important role, particularly presentations, projects and other evaluation techniques are used to keep track of the progress."
The London School pedagogy considers these notions and takes them forward into the 21st Century where all that exists as knowledge is available to everyone who knows how to access it in the online forum, how to evaluate the credibility of the information and how to interpret its meaning. Students no longer must prove their worth by spouting the wisdom of the ages but rather by developing the discernment required to use knowledge to its best advantage; how to apply it to everyday life and how to evaluate the impact of certain knowledge and actions from the appropriate historical perspective. We do not want future generations to repeat past mistakes but we do want them to understand how their choices and actions will shape their future. What our students need to know remains to be seen. It is our job to ensure that they have the confidence and skills to recognize the value and application of knowledge as presented to them through a variety of personal and school experiences.
THE OUR KIDS REPORT: The Sycamore School
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