PHILOSOPHY

MARS ACADEMY PHILOSOPHY

It is at the foundation of Mars Academy’s belief that education is not a simple dissemination of information or a mere matter of facts. Education is about processes, and is processes. The traditional concept of pre-planned formal lesson plans is flawed. Educators need to be prepared with a repertoire from which to spontaneously draw, based on reading the students before them. Students need to be taught based on where they are, and based on where they are ready to go. Even in the most homogenous of classrooms, however, students are in different places and ready to go to different places. The concept that all students in the same classroom must be taught the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, is archaic. Educators need to be flexible and creative, and willing to meet the needs of their students. Children are human beings, each unique, with incredible potential for learning and growth. The job of the educator is to facilitate that growth. This growth is optimized by focusing on the individuality of each child. When provided the proper support, guidance, and encouragement, students can go well beyond the usual ceilings above them. Material that is taught ought be made relevant - be made real - be related to real life. It is the educators job to help the student gain perspective, insight, and depth of understanding. There are not simply three R’s to education - reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic - - the fourth R of reasoning is crucial. Children need to not merely be told what to think, but need to be guided in developing the skills to think. They need to be taught problem solving and critical thinking - from analytical, as well as creative angles. What children think and do does matter. Each child is special and deserves to be treated as such. They can and do make a difference. Their minds have massive potential. Their hearts have incredible innate caring. This must be nurtured. Educators must respect, understand, and genuinely care about their students. Attention must be paid to the whole child - body, heart, and mind. Education focusing purely on facts is unrealistic. No matter what the circumstances, it is not possible to teach everything to any child. The job of the educator is to help students so that they are equipped to be life long learners. Educators themselves must also be continually open to learning.

These are the beliefs upon which Mars Academy is based. The Mars Academy faculty do not so much see themselves as teachers, in the traditional sense, but more as facilitators of learning and growth. Mars Academy’s goal is to help each student to develop as an individual, to develop positive interpersonal relations, and to develop a sense of self as an important part of our world community.

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION

Mars Academy provides a nurturing respect for individuality.

All children of the same age do not come to class with the same knowledge, understanding, learning styles, etc. - instead of teaching an entire class the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, Mars Academy meets students where they are individually.

While there is group instruction, when appropriate, Mars Academy’s focus is on each child individually. Helping each child individually will help them come together better as a group as well.

Each child is seen as, and appreciated for, the wonderfully special and unique individuals they are - for who they are, for how they learn, for what they can do, and for where they can go. Mars Academy believes that every member of a community is valuable and can play an important role in the world around them.

It is for this reason that Mars Academy provides:

  • one-on-one education and attention
  • opportunity to be challenged at one’s own level and at one’s own pace
  • the freedom for each individual to work in a positive, supportive, and nurturing environment

Mars Academy is committed to each individual -

to respect each individual
to reveal each individual
to know each individual
to nurture each individual
to hear each individual
to help each individual
to guide each individual
to grow each individual
to challenge each individual
to cherish each individual
to support each individual
to self-actualize each individual

BLEND, NOT BOX

Mars Academy does not neatly fit into a box, (nor do we expect our students to do so). Mars Academy is a unique blend. It blends the benefits of home-schooling with the benefits of a private tutor with the benefits of group schooling - the benefits of non-competitive, progressive programming with the benefits of traditional, preparatory education - the benefits of structure with the benefits of freedom.

While Mars Academy provides a strong academic college-oriented education, it does so in a manner that is cooperative, respectful, and individually oriented.

In order for individuals to exist successfully in society, they must learn to become worthwhile contributing members.

In order for society to exist most successfully, it needs to allow, or better yet enable, the individuals, that make up this society, to maximize their potential individuality.

LEARNING BY EMULATION VS. LEARNING BY EXPERIMENTATION

In some schools, students are taught by the traditional modality of repetition and reinforcement. They are taught what to do and how to do it.

In other schools, students are taught by the progressive modality of experimentation and exploration. They are given the opportunity to just try and to be creative. Each of these modalities, on their own, are flawed. When carefully combined, however, the best interests of each individual, as a whole child, are met.

The traditional approach is beneficial in helping students solidify necessary skills. The progressive approach is beneficial in helping students go beyond.

POSITIVE PREPARATION

Some schools are wonderfully positive feel-good environments. Typically, though, these schools do not adequately prepare their students academically.

Other schools provide a rigorous education and academic preparation. These schools, however, typically can put excessive pressure and competition on their students.

Mars Academy provides the best of both worlds, without the typical weaknesses. Mars Academy provides positive support along with strong academic preparation. Mars Academy nurtures and challenges all at the same time.

Mars Academy does not just prepare students for their next schools; Mars Academy prepares students for their lives.

HEALTHY VS. UNHEALTHY COMPETITION

While students need to be prepared to function successfully in our world, they do not need to be socialized to perpetuate the problems of our world. Competition exists. Our society often seems based on it. While Mars Academy does, at age appropriate levels, teach about the harsh competition that exists out there, the Mars Academy environment is one of understanding, respecting, and supporting differences. Mars Academy treats each student as the individual that s/he is. Each student will inevitably shine greater in some areas than in others. The areas in which a student shines are recognized and appreciated in the Mars Academy community. The areas in which a student does not as notably shine are also recognized and developed. Students at Mars Academy are not pitted against each other in competition. Instead, they support each other. They help each other compete, not against their fellow students, but rather against themselves. No two students are the same; putting them against each other makes no sense, and is unhealthy competition, (especially at young age levels). Competing against one’s self, however, is healthy competition - striving to do one’s best - reaching as high as one can. With the support that Mars Academy provides, students feel good about what they accomplish and there are no limits to what they can accomplish - there are no ceilings.

NO CEILINGS

There are no ceilings at Mars Academy! [Don’t worry - the students will not get soaked in class on Los Angeles’s rare rainy days - we’re being figurative here - our roof will actually be in quite good shape.] Mars Academy is committed to helping each child reach for that which s/he is ready. One student can be working on addition while another could be working on calculus. One student can be reading Roald Dahl and another can be reading Shakespeare.