Progressive Education at HVA
We believe that curriculum must, first and foremost, develop in students a deep and enduring understanding of complex ideas and the ability to apply that understanding to new and complex situations. This is accomplished by designing curriculum around the fluid cognitive and work performance skills that are the basis of college readiness. When planning units and lessons, we ask ourselves: What level of cognitive demand is required to answer the questions and complete the tasks of the lesson?
A strong foundation of content knowledge is important, but, as Alfie Kohn says, “in a context and for a purpose.” That is, a well-crafted curriculum is not simply a list of decontextualized topics and skills. It is a coherent progression of important ideas taught through meaningful questions that spark student curiosity and build student understanding.
And as they pursue a demanding course of study, we also want our students to cultivate a sense of dignity and purpose, and to form friendships marked by kindness and generosity of spirit. To this end, we spend a good deal of time teaching character at HVA–not a discrete program but integrated throughout the curriculum and learned through experience and practice.
For high school students who wish to pursue an accelerated course of study, we offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), which emphasizes depth and quality of student thinking and features Socratic seminar. We do not offer Advanced Placement (AP), which has traditionally emphasized breadth over depth and content coverage.