August 18, 2015

4 Qualities of an Engaging Program for Junior High and High Schoolers

4 Qualities of an Engaging Program for Junior High and High

Schooling For Life’s students love the fact that not only does Schooling For Life (SFL) give them time to interact with their friends, but they get to socialize while learning valuable life-skills at the same time.  How great is that?

It takes a certain mix of elements to consistently deliver this type of environment.  SFL is able to achieve this goal because we hire world-class professors, host top-notch weekend seminars, coordinate exciting international trips, and, most importantly, work with high-quality students.

World-class Professors

SFL has employed instructors from Yale, Stanford, Emory, Wheaton, and Kenyon colleges, among other institutions. These teachers are consistently engaging lecturers who can captivate the students’ interests and help them learn about any subject.

One such professor was Michael Drout, Professor of English at Wheaton College. He has taught two SFL seminars, and most of the students say he’s one of the best teachers they’ve ever had.

He managed to fascinate the students by talking about grammar (I know, grammar!), and has inspired some of them to continue studying rhetoric and literature. Almost two years after the first seminar Drout taught for SFL, the students are still talking about what they learned from him.

Weekend Seminars

Many educational programs struggle to find an adequate balance between teaching their students and allowing the students time to socialize with each other.

But SFL’s seminars have an excellent balance between classroom time and time to socialize with friends, because the seminars are scheduled so that the students do fun activities in between the professor’s lectures.

For example, during our December 2014 seminar, the students spent the mornings and evenings learning about literary and text analysis. But in the afternoons, they did different activities like swimming and rock climbing.

International Trips

Every year, SFL hosts at least one extended travel trip, which last a week or two. In the past, SFL has taken a trip to Paris, has toured the Southwest, and has traveled around England. Our latest trip was to Israel, where we spent two weeks.

The trips allow SFL’s students to learn in the best way possible—by actually being at the scene where a historical event took place, and having knowledgeable guides tell them about it.

After our trip to Israel this summer, one student remarked that it was some of the best two weeks of her entire life.

High-quality Students

You know the kid in your class who always came late, talked back, interrupted the teacher, and had horrid social skills?

Here’s some good news: this kind of student does not exist in SFL. We are selective about the students who are admitted to the program.

Because our students are well-behaved and respectful, SFL attracts instructors who would not otherwise teach middle-school and high-school age kids.

Patrick Allitt, Professor of History at Emory University and lecturer for the Teaching Company, has taught one SFL seminar and attended two summer SFL trips.  Even he admits that he was hesitant at first to spend an extended amount of time with teenagers.

However, after teaching one SFL seminar, he was so impressed by the group that he agreed to attend SFL’s two-week England trip as a guest professor.

“I’ve been very impressed … by the very high quality of the students themselves,” he later remarked. “They are exceptionally intelligent, gifted, energetic, enthusiastic, and a great pleasure to be with and to help to teach.”

Worth the Effort

Sure, it takes a certain amount of energy and investment to create this type of program for our students.  But it’s well worth the effort to see students excited, engaged, and looking forward to learning.