What is Thematic Education?
In a nutshell, progressive education emphasizes "learning through
discovery," and Thornton-Donovan does this like no other school.
Our students learn about a piece of history or a part of the world
during the school year, then at the end of the year, they go! The entire
Middle and Upper schools literally take education on the road. This is
not an isolated, stand-alone experience; the courses of study and the
themes selected each year are designed to pick up important threads of
the prior years’ study experiences. For example, the interconnectedness
of Brazil, Portugal and South Africa (studied in 2008-2010) was
celebrated through careful course planning. This weaving of themes
offers our young minds a sophisticated way to see and think about the
For the 2011-2012 school year, we will voyage in our minds, and in the
spring with our bodies, to Venice. The music and art, history and
politics, and the spoken word of the country are woven together in an
elegant way with wonderfully specific electives. Learning, therefore, is
Remember that at Thornton-Donovan, education is customized. In addition
to reading, writing, math and sciences, from middle school on courses
are selected based on interest and ability, not grade level. Students
are encouraged to try the new theme-based yearly courses, to go deeper
into an area of interest. Perhaps this year will include a class about
Venetian glass, in which case younger students may be challenged with
primary source materials on the subject together with their high school
classmates. This applies to the regular curriculum as well; if she is
capable, a 6th grader may find herself doing calculus with a 10th
grader; if he has the talent and the desire, an 8th grader may play an
instrument alongside a senior. This mixing of the grades allows for
dynamic class discussion, mentoring of younger students, and a feeling
of freedom and opportunity for our youngsters.
Our school offers an intimate and exciting academic community with
thematic education at its core. This exceptional environment attracts an
international group of dynamic and enthusiastic teachers.
In short, at
T-D faculty and students consider themselves world citizens, and each
year distinguish themselves as ambassadors for our school and nation.
Individually focused, globally engaged.