Our college preparatory teaching philosophy
Distinguished colleges and universities are knowledge-building communities that challenge students to participate in intellectual dialogue across a spectrum of academic topics and real world problems. Participants in such communities are encouraged to question established knowledge and contribute new thinking for the benefit of all community members and society as a whole. Entering students are similar to new apprentices in that they generally operate as peripheral participants who gradually earn their way toward the center of the community as they participate and contribute more consequentially.
To prepare students for participation in such communities, great teachers and parents foster in children a sense of identity as thinkers and speakers whose minds and language and social standing all qualify them for participation in discussions of intellectually complex and nuanced issues and for reading and writing and talking about such issues. It is essential that such students are provided with experiences that will enable them to acquire the critical habits of mind, academic competencies, and linguistic mastery that maximize success in higher education.
For students in international secondary schools, native-like communicative competence in English, including academic English cannot be acquired merely from direct instruction in grammar and vocabulary. Such instruction must be supplemented and followed by opportunities for language learning that are analogous to the language learning opportunities presented to children as they develop native competence in their mother tongue. For students aspiring to enroll in distinguished American, British, and Canadian universities, this means rich opportunities for active participation in conversational English on academic and intellectual topics under conditions in which they are challenged to be thoughtful and comprehensible in their discourse and demonstrate thoughtful comprehension of the contributions of others.
The Elite Direction system is built, run, and delivered by expert native English-speaking educators, who are graduates of top colleges and universities, working under the supervision of eminent Columbia University professors in English education. We employ a workshop model for learning, whereby students are required to function as active participants in meaningful and challenging academic tasks in collaboration with their peers, requiring them to employ critical reading, writing, thinking, and speaking skills for the advancement of knowledge for themselves and their community. The goal of each course is for students to grow in their substantive knowledge of the topics and texts that are examined, while also maturing in their capacity to employ their skill in using the English language to think deeply, express themselves clearly, and analyze texts and ideas critically in the context of a knowledge-building community.