School Philosophy

We believe that all students deserve the best educational opportunities where teachers hold high expectations for all and where students are part of a diverse, caring community.

Vision - Success for all in a community of caring and lifelong learning.

Mission - To create a learning community in which all students can develop intellectually, personally, socially and physically into lifelong learners and productive citizens.

The education at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts is driven by the Paideia Philosophy as set forth by Mortimer Adler.  We recommend all our families read The Paideia Proposal by Adler to more fully understand this approach to teaching children.

Three Columns of Instruction
One component of CSLA's teaching philosophy is Didactic Teaching (or what we would normally refer to as lecture or the teacher giving information while the student listens).  In a typical class on a typical day, this should only comprise about 10-15% of the class time.

The largest block of time in a classroom should be spent Coaching.  This occurs when an instructor watches and listens to how students took in the information, how they are processing it, and how much they are grasping.  Small groups, one-on-one discussions and peer-to-peer talks are great ways to assess this understanding and as the instructor evaluates each student's progress, they can make changes, add to the information, show another method to accomplish the same thing, etc.  Coaching is at the heart of how student's learn at CSLA.

The final column of instruction is Socratic Seminar.  Each of the teachers at CSLA is trained to lead and facilitate small seminar groups of students.  During Seminar, which is held in every grade each Wednesday, students will use a text, a song, an art piece, a poem or something else and delve into the real meaning of it.  Through Seminar, students are taught to think critically, agree and disagree civilly and respectfully with other classmates, engage in an appropriate flow of conversation and back up their statements with evidence from the selected study.  We offer Parent Seminars throughout the year so that our families can also experience what our students do each week.

For Every Student, Every Day
One of Mortimer Adler's big ideas was that the best education for the best is truly the best education for all.  At CSLA, we wholeheartedly believe in the learning potential of every student.  Our teachers and administration know that they themselves need to be the leading learner in the classroom.  Students are supported, challenged, applauded and engaged daily and our expectations of them - both academically and behaviorally - are high.  And you know what?  They meet and exceed those expectations, time after time!

To learn more about the Paideia Philosophy, please visit The National Paideia Center.

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