We believe that students want to learn in an engaging, interactive, and nurturing environment that encourages curiosity, creativity, collaboration and independence. Research on cognitive and developmental sciences has provided a foundation for how learning occurs. At Apple, we have a fundamental belief in three core principles of learning that will be incorporated into the culture of teaching, as offered by the National Research Council (2002, pp. 1-2):
- Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.
- To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.
- A metacognitive approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.
In addition to these core principles, our work will be grounded in constructivism and sociocultural theory because we believe that children possess funds of knowledge, culturally relevant physical and cognitive tools and a natural curiosity to learn that can be shared with their peers and adults (Vygotsky, 1998; Frere, 1990). We will also align with the Rigor/Relevance Framework (Daggett, 1992), that creates opportunities for students to learn across the disciplines, to support our students mastery of standards and ensure that they excel to their potential. The Rigor/Relevance Framework is a powerful tool for learning that is optimized when students are involved in activities that require both complex thinking, as well as the application of knowledge to real-world situations.
Rigor, relevance and relationships in an interdisciplinary, inquiry based approach will emphasize the knowledge and skills necessary for future success, specifically in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). This approach will help students to see how these disciplines are related in real life with the underlying foundation of literacy.
Our students will flourish in our culture of excellence and become competent, articulate and productive students. The balanced and inclusive instructional program will center on four pillars of 21st century education confirmed by the research of Basarab Nicolescu (2006):
- Learning to know - This is the capability of making connections, adapting to changes and knowing how to learn. Most notably, this refers to the inquiry-based approach to learning such as the scientific process or research and information fluency.
- Learning to do - interdisciplinary learning is framed in the idea of project-based learning or performance tasks that demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge in a creative manner.
- Learning to live together - the interconnectedness of the world makes this aspect even more urgent for a need to be able to collaborate on a local and global scale.
- Learning to be - the life-long journey of self-discovery must be part of the process of learning.