The Blue Oak School curriculum, developed by the School’s faculty, is predicated on our seven principles of teaching and learning. As progressive educators, we believe that learning comes through experience and meaningful reflection on experience.


1. Children “learn by doing.”

At Blue Oak School students do not just read about science, they hypothesize, experiment, and build their own apparatus. They devise mathematical models and apply them; they read literature and create their own stories. They compose music, and they do original research.


2. Curriculum is child-centered and developmentally appropriate.

Learning takes place in a meaningful context and is tied to children’s needs and interests. In this way, education at Blue Oak fosters each child’s all-important internal motivation to learn.


3. The curriculum builds from a foundation.

Lessons draw on what a student already knows to extend his or her established base of knowledge, recognizing the importance of what Lev Vygotsky deemed “the zone of proximal development.”


4. Understanding, rather than memorization, is stressed.

When understanding is achieved memorization follows. Students who understand carry their knowledge with them out into the world and can transfer it to new situations.


5. The process of learning is emphasized.

When process is central, there is no need to cheat, no need for parents to do homework, no need to avoid risks. Risk-taking and experiencing an occasional failure are embraced as, as Madeline Levine eloquently states, “the blessings of the skinned knee.”


6. The curriculum is integrated.

Blue Oak School faculty blend disciplines to stimulate understanding from different viewpoints and to show the real-world application of knowledge. Teaching is extended through literature, music, art, science and mathematics.


7. Inquiry is at the heart of the curriculum.

Important questions are asked and addressed. “We only learn,” John Dewey so rightly put it, “when confronted with a problem.”