Part of our Meritas Academic Plan (MAP) calls for building students’ Critical Thinking, Complex Problem Solving, and High-Order Reasoning. We believe that, more than rote memorization, these are the vital skills and competencies that our students will need to be happy and successful in the world of tomorrow.
One way that we build these skills in our students is through the use of Essential Questions. EQs are used to foster student discussion and thought, which in turn leads to deeper understanding of the content. Students are given opportunities to engage with these challenging questions both at the beginning and at the end of learning experiences. Sometimes students are asked to respond orally whole- group, sometimes in writing, or sometimes to share with a partner. As students engage with the same EQ over a period of time, their depth of understanding grows and their responses become more complex.
We’ve put together a video of our Lower School students responding to some of the typical Essential Questions that you will see posted in our classrooms. I encourage you to click on the link below and observe how the beginnings of understanding in the earlier years grow to more sophisticated understandings in later grades.
John Heffron, Lower School Principal
“Arguably, questioning is the most timeless and fundamental stratagem employed by teachers from Confucius to Aristotle to Descartes to provoke learners.”
-Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Curriculum Designers, The Curriculum 21 Project
Essential – the choicest or most vital part of some idea or experience: absolutely necessary; extremely important; fundamental or central to the nature of something or someone.