Kids have trouble seeing the use of a lot of what they are taught. Even the highest achievers often report that their chief motivation is external – they want to do well so they can get into a programme and then a profession they see as desirable. They often complain of being forced to cram, of having to regurgitate. How can we get away from this model of teaching as the transmission of textbook material?
What makes us want to learn at any age? Something stirs us to curiosity and wonder. Where’s the pleasure in it? Not in being tested, but in finding out. Not in assignments and limitations, but in freedom to explore. Museums are treasure houses full of rare, strange, and telling objects, made to prick our desire to know.
Museums are perfect settings for learning in other ways – they hold research as well as display collections; they are staffed with knowledgeable curators. And they are welcoming. They are not for adults only, or for an elite membership: they are open to the general public. Museums have a mission to educate as well as to collect, preserve and exhibit.
There is something about a museum that invites wandering and examining and asking questions. You are surrounded by objects for study, and each one leads out to a myriad of fields. This is a natural setting for active, individual learning.
Being museum-based means we frequent the key Toronto collections – the A.G.O., the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics, the R.O.M., the Textile Museum, and dozens of other sites and collections. We bring our students into the world of all that the Muses love, for other cultural institutions are also literally museums. We attend lectures and master classes at Toronto’s many post-secondary venues. We go to concerts and performances, laboratories, observatories, studios.
Artists and thinkers bring their work to us. Using these holdings and experiences, our students reach advanced skills in inquiry and research.
The Dragon Academy is a unique experiment. There are only a handful of true museum schools worldwide, and we believe ours to be the only complete high school programme.
Dragon recognizes the primary goal of science as understanding, a way to unlock both the natural and the human-designed worlds. Scientific literacy is far more than an encyclopedia of facts, descriptions and explanations. As scientific theories and concepts undergo constant evolution, as human interventions in the natural world create dangerous changes and present extraordinary solutions, our students need to understand how scientific knowledge is generated and validated, how to assess issues of ethics and impact. The scientific method has broad implications for critical thinking, design and creation. We do Dragons the justice of exploring these.
Model UN @ Dragon
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Dragon Film Making Program
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