Given the current obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the unpredictable nature of what lies ahead for next school year, and the need to dedicate our facilities to our current program, we have decided that it is in the best interest of Oak Hill Academy to delay the opening of our Socrates High School to an undetermined date in the future. Until then, we continue to believe in the Socrates school philosophy and trust that the best is still to come.
The Socrates School is Oak Hill Academy’s vision for secondary education. Serving grades 9-12, the school reimagines what high school is today. Instead of a restrictive curriculum and hierarchical teacher-student relationship, the Socrates School will emphasize personalized learning, or the tailoring of instruction to individual interests and needs. Students at the Socrates School will have the flexibility to pursue their own passions at their own pace, all with the support of dedicated faculty mentors. They will graduate with a love of learning and a determination to take on the challenges of an always changing society.
Mission & Vision
Mission StatementSocrates students will transform their world as they discover the powers within their personal strengths. They will think, create, fail, recover, and will be immersed in an atmosphere of rigor, reflection, challenges, and achievement. The Socrates School will exist to help students discover their joyful purpose.
Vision StatementOak Hill believes that all children have an instinctive need to learn, a natural curiosity, and a desire to do work of significance. Our intention is to combine the strongest possible academic atmosphere with a supportive, caring environment in an effort to develop self-confident, motivated students who have a love of learning.
Reimagining High School
Many high school programs today are not equipping students with 21st century skills. Teenagers are disengaged by traditional instruction that requires rote memorization and results in only short term knowledge. The information they study usually has no application value. Rather, students today must be challenged with a curriculum that is both rigorous and meaningful. A personalized approach to learning allows for not only some choice in topics studied but also flexibility in when, how, and to what degree these topics are pursued. This personalized approach is vital if high school students are to experience productive learning. Elliot Washor, a leading expert in education reform, describes the following conditions as central benefits of small, personalized high school work:
- Relationships: Do my teachers care about my interests and me? Can I work with and learn from adults who share my interests?
- Relevance: Do I find what the school is teaching to be relevant to my career interests?
- Choice: Will I be able to choose what, when, and how I will learn?
- Challenge: Do I feel sufficiently challenged in doing this learning and work?
- Practice: Will I have an opportunity to engage in deep and sustained practice of those skills I wish to learn?
- Play: Will I have opportunities to explore and ot make mistakes without being chastised for failing?
- Authenticity: Will the learning and work I do be regarded as significant outside of schools?
- Application: Will I have opportunities to apply what I am learning in real-world contexts?
- Time: Will there be sufficient time for me to learn at my own pace?
- Timing: Can I pursue my learning out of the standard sequence?
The Socrates curriculum will consist of five “blocks,” each of which is designed to establish a framework of knowledge from which the student can explore his or her individual passions in greater depth.
- The Socrates Block Subjects covered in this block include social studies, philosophy, literature/language arts, and history. With such programs as the Gates Foundation’s Big History Project and the Great Books Program, the student will cultivate skills necessary to make evidence-based analysis of the impact and significance of the humanities.
- The Academic Block Subjects covered here include science, mathematics, and foreign language. An online teacher backed by an OHA mentor will guide the student through courses provided by the Laurel Springs School, Middlebury Interactive Languages, and Johns Hopkins University.
- The Elective Block To cater to personal interests, the student will take one elective per semester through Laurel Springs. Examples include Computer Science & Coding, World Religions, Fashion & Interior Design, Archaeology, Painting, Biotechnology, and Philosophy.
- The Exploration Bock With a Project-Based Learning model at its core, which organizes learning around a project to promote critical thinking and student autonomy, this block will have the student use prior knowledge from other blocks to embark on investigations of his or her choosing. The goal of these experiments and research is to think critically and address real world problems. Moreover, students will declare a life mission early in their junior year as a way to guide their final years of exploration at Socrates. Their mission will also lead to a roadmap of where they ought to be headed after Socrates.
- The Flex Block Here the student has the opportunity to step out of the traditional student role and experience personal development, physical well-being, and service to others. The student may choose to learn a new sport or assist in after school activities, like tutoring, drama, or yearbook.
A Day at the Socrates School
The following is a sample schedule for a student’s day at the Socrates School. However, students will have the flexibility to alter this schedule as they see fit, perhaps spending more time on the Exploration Block one day and more time at an internship the next. With the guidance of faculty and small classroom settings, schedules are intended to fluctuate and keep the learning environment both stimulating and adaptable for students.
Why the name “The Socrates School?”
Socrates’ greatest contribution to fellow learners is his theory of questioning, which we now call the Socratic Method. To gain true knowledge, Socrates believed that an issue must be broken into smaller questions. The answers help the thinker recognize contradictions and distill reason. Therefore, at the Socrates School we use this method in class discussions and problem solving. Our two humanities courses “Big History Project” and the “Great Books Program” are grounded in this methodology. It asks students to hold ideas up to light and challenge, question, test, and hypothesize about them. Students who can ask deep questions and also sit back and listen while learning from others, afford the opportunity for deep and rewarding thinking. Focus is taken off simple content recall and assessment practices that are outdated. Given this task of practicing creative thinking, the learner can develop outstanding writing, speaking, and listening techniques along with social emotional people skills. At the Socrates School we prepare students for a world that now rewards people for what they can do with what they know, how they believe in the world, and how they adapt. Our motto remains:
“Imagine the Future”Our young people will be responsible for that future and they will be prepared for the challenges ahead.
We have compiled the following resources if you are interested in further understanding our educational philosophy, including such concepts as personalized and project-based learning.
- Personalized Learning
- Project-Based Learning
- Mastery Transcript Consortium
- Great Books
- Outside Resources