How to Think, Not What to Think

How to Think, Not What to Think

ARCHES Academy is approaching learning in a transformative and unique way. It’s no secret that children today are inundated with messages from all areas of life: social media, news, advertising, movies, and conversations with peers, as well as what they learn at school. No one is without an opinion, but some are without credible information. It is our mission at ARCHES Academy to help students increase their broad knowledge of the world so they can make informed and carefully evaluated choices. Teaching children how to think, not what to think, is a guiding principle of our flexible, holistic approach to learning.

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills

Being a savvy media consumer requires rapid decision making about what we see and hear. We have to quickly evaluate the messages we receive, but can only do so with a depth of knowledge about the subject matter. We must be listeners and thinkers, open-minded and, simultaneously, critical. When we come upon a question that cannot be answered with a quick Google search, that’s when we know we are really thinking!

ARCHES Academy student smiles by her science fair project at the March 2021 science fair

But how do we teach our students to think? First, we start by making students' thinking visible! When faced with a decision, we go through the following process:

  • Seek to gather information about the choices—ask questions, listen, and learn from credible sources
  • Evaluate that information against our personal beliefs and background knowledge, while also taking into account possible outcomes of our decision. We weigh a decision against what is important to us, what we want, and what we already know to be true.
  • Rank our decisions
  • Make a decision and own it!

We create opportunities for our students to put this process into action throughout their time at ARCHES Academy. Our hands-on projects encourage teamwork—a fabulous chance to learn from others and make decisions, as well as work on our social and emotional skills. We help students connect ideas from each other and incorporate different points of view. Creativity and an agile mind are beautiful results of intentionally guided teamwork.

Four ARCHES Academy students work together on a game around a table in a classroom

Over time, the decision-making process and critical thinking skills become second nature—with practice and knowledge our students develop into nimble and adaptable thinkers. Sometimes a challenge to our thinking comes up and sometimes that feels a little uncomfortable. We teach our students that discomfort is a sign of growth and change and not to shy away from a challenge!

Personal Responsibility & Leadership

We ultimately believe that strong decision-making skills and the ability to look at an issue with a critical (but not judgmental) eye, increase our students’ sense of personal responsibility. Our students know that teachers and staff at ARCHES believe in their ability to make decisions that benefit them and their classmates, as well as own the consequences of their actions. We put the power in their hands and our students rise to our high expectations!

One example of how we cultivate personal responsibility is our Passport Program. Our Passports have tasks that children must accomplish in order to show mastery of a subject or skill (similar to earning a badge in Scouts). Students have a choice in how they demonstrate mastery to their teacher. If they choose a different way than the passport describes, no problem—convince us you have mastered the skill and you’ve earned your stamp!

ARCHES Academy provides opportunities for students to take on meaningful leadership roles and shared responsibilities. Our Student Ambassadors are tasked with introducing new students to the ins and outs of our school. Our Library Assistants have a chance to learn about serving others. We encourage our students to take risks, try new things, and embrace failure as a part of the learning process.

We believe that the 21st-century skill of critical thinking is essential to creating strong, empathetic, and informed leaders of the future. At ARCHES, we are here to support your child to use their knowledge and skills to make great decisions and impact their communities in school and beyond.

About ARCHES Academy

Our commitment is to help each K-8 learner achieve mastery of the standards by use of authentic learning experiences, coaching and mentoring, freedom of choice, and personal responsibility. At ARCHES Academy, our educational approach produces outstanding individuals who not only have acquired exceptional literacy in the arts and sciences, but mastery over self and true leadership ability. Enrolling K-8 tuition-free today!