The Northstar Approach illustrates how we think about education and learning at the Northstar School. Traditionally education and learning have been confined to the four walls of a classroom. and thought of as an activity taking place between the two kinds of people in it, students and teachers. At the Northstar School we believe education and learning can happen anywhere and from anyone, and we believe it is our job to show this to our students and help them understand how to keep learning throughout their lives.
At Northstar we thus rely on more than four-walled classrooms and a single teacher to facilitate learning: we rely on our Learners to learn from and with others as well as on their own, on our excellent Educators to create and guide engaging learning experiences, on a carefully designed physical Learning Environment that inspires exploration, and on involved Parents & Community partners that support and expand learners’ horizons.
We like to refer to our students as learners. Being “a good student” is often associated with being disciplined and doing well on tests – traits that might not be very reflective of a child’s actual learning. Instead, a good learner is someone who can apply learning strategies to explore, form and better understand new concepts and ideas. At Northstar, education is not about acing a test, but about personal growth through deep understanding, and the language we use reflects that.
Without quality educators, it is impossible to provide quality education. The word “teaching” tends to be associated with the act of “instructing”, ie. the transfer of knowledge to students via lectures. At Northstar we think of teaching as being so much more than limited to classroom instruction. In fact, we believe good teaching is about listening more and talking less, about understanding and motivating and about fostering connection in order to establish a safe space for students to explore, experiment and reflect. To reflect this more holistic view of a teacher’s role in education, we like to use the word educator.
Physical surroundings matter. They can affect our mood and inspire our behaviors. At Northstar safety comes first – learning happens best in physical spaces that feel safe. But our campus is also designed to inspire exploration and investigation – inside and outside the buildings there are rich learning opportunities in the form of tools such as the latest technology or in the form of natural phenomena such as the more than 80 different tree species that grow on campus.
Parents & Community
Learning happens everywhere and from everyone, not just during “school time”. Parents play a crucial role in supporting and guiding their child’s learning outside school, and the local community provides essential opportunities for learners to experience how work is being done in the real world, and how communities operate in complex ways to meet the needs of its members. At Northstar we view both parents and community members as fundamental partners on the journey we call education.