Our academic philosophy at Greenwood School is founded on our knowledge of how children learn. Academic skills such as language and mathematics are learned skills. Due to genetic and neurological factors, they are acquired easily by some students and with varying degrees of difficulty by others. The ability to concentrate attention, organize, and plan – executive functioning – is critical to academic success, but varies greatly across the population. The same is true of the speed with which an individual processes information, the accuracy of his perception, and his ability to hold and manipulate information in working memory. None of this is a function of intelligence; many very bright students must deal with complex learning challenges.
These difficulties are compounded by the emotional baggage one acquires from having struggled in school. Many students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, have lost their enthusiasm for classroom work and feel hopelessly awkward and embarrassed in a mainstream peer group. They often reject compliments and encouragement from friends and family members because they think they are being consoled or patronized. Many have also experienced the academic and social complications of being separated from peers in order to attend special remedial classes. Normal free time has often been cut to make up schoolwork or to meet with a tutor.
At Greenwood, we have seen the incredible progress that is possible when these young men are placed in the right environment. Greenwood’s program has evolved over the course of more than three decades of research and teaching experience to provide each student with
- a true peer environment where uneven academic performance, coupled with wide-ranging interests and talents, is the norm
- a warm and embracing community in which kindness, fellowship, and tolerance are valued
- skilled, research-based remediation
- intellectually challenging curriculum that builds his ability to reason, critique, debate, create, and enjoy a fund of general knowledge
- avenues for academic success that don’t depend on his weakest skills
- opportunities to discover his unique talents through extensive athletic, outdoor, and creative offerings
- support in setting personal goals and persevering to achieve them
In this environment, it is possible to recover lost self-esteem. As confidence develops and motivation returns, the process of failure and frustration is reversed. The desire to learn is reawakened, prompting extra effort and a positive outlook. At Greenwood, students discover just how normal – even extraordinary — they truly are.