The Areté Classroom
An Areté classroom is like no other. Abuzz with exciting ideas, thoughtful inquiry, and brainy humor, an Areté lesson harnesses the best of research-based pedagogy and educational artistry. Over the last eleven years, Areté has claimed its place as a critical thinking and hands-on learning powerhouse, an elite, off-the-beaten-path alternative for L.A. families ready and able to think beyond the status quo. Our inquiry-driven curriculum and commitment to broad questions and big ideas put us at the forefront of a long-overdue movement in education, one that prepares our students to be innovators, creators and game changers.
Areté’s middle school is a seminar-style laboratory for learning where students not only encounter, but actually engage with and create important ideas in a wide range of academic and artistic fields. Our middle schoolers work closely with faculty mentors to co-create curriculum and assignments based on shared curiosities and passions. By doing this, students achieve the most lasting reward for their deep, diligent, relevant work: an immeasurable commitment to, and fascination with learning itself.
Come see for yourself what education can and should be.
At Areté , students:
- Develop their authentic self through a healthy combination of
intellect and socio-emotional awareness.
- Learn that true wisdom means peeling back layers and layers of
questions to reveal even more questions.
- Become self-motivated, self-initiating learners and creators as
well as intellectual and artistic collaborators.
- Discover a powerful individual voice, a compassionate approach
to others, a strong ability to reason, and a drive to contribute
originally and meaningfully to the world.
Even More of What Passionate Learners Demand:
A One-of-a-Kind Pre-Professional Certificate Program in Coding and Video Game Design
- Coding instruction tailored to game design
- Students are creating video games from day one
- Guest speakers from and tours of local gaming companies
- Summer internships at gaming companies
- The opportunity to graduate with a Video Game Programming
Preprofessional Certificate along with an Areté Diploma
Reinvigorated, Individualized Mathematics Learning:
Areté’s Middle School Math Lab seeks to reimagine math instruction, incorporating the best parts of research-driven pedagogy with real-world STEM skills: collaborative problem solving, personal acceleration, a discovery-based (rather than “formula-driven”) approach to problem-solving strategy. Asynchronous Learning allows each student to proceed at his or her own pace, spending longer on difficult topics while moving quickly through more easily mastered content. This is math learning the way it was meant to be, driven by the synergy between an eager student and a skilled teacher, at the pace that is appropriate for the learner, not artificially set by the needs of a master schedule or a 20-30 student classroom.
State-of-the-Art STEM Labs: Areté boasts an award-winning Interscholastic Robotics Team, with the space and advanced tools to forge custom-made parts and mechanisms. In addition, Areté’s Idea Lab offers an inspirational paradise of tools and reclaimed parts, designed to bring out the playful inventor in every student.
Five Foreign Language Options: Spanish, French, Mandarin, Japanese and Latin, with yearly language immersion trips to bring language learning to life.
The Philosopher’s Toolkit: Students take part in Areté’s signature “Philosophy Bootcamp,” studying Epistemology, Logic, Metaphysics, Ethics, Political Philosophy and Aesthetics and ultimately choosing 3-4 ideas and philosophers with whom their views most closely align. As a culminating project, students develop and present their own philosophical ideas to the Areté community as part of a Festival of Great Ideas.
An Artistic Identity: Not everyone considers themselves an artist, but everyone can develop an artistic sensibility. What do we mean by this? When one has cultivated an artist’s perception, the artist’s eye, the student can better navigate all modes of knowing. As John Berger, the 20th century’s most gifted interpreter of arts, said: “the relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” Areté students learn these skills by first exploring in the areas of Visual Arts, Design, Theater, Film, Music, Dance and Creative Writing, and then by going deep in them. In doing this, Areté students not only advance, for their own sake, their artistic skills, but they develop their artist’s eye. By nurturing a more nuanced way of seeing, a student’s ability to create a robot, write an essay, deliver a persuasive speech or discern interdisciplinary connections exponentially grows.
Driven by their work in the first semester Exploration experience-Deep Dives offer learners the opportunity to dig into a subject in a comprehensive way and set them on a path to develop their intellectual and personal identities. Challenged to design courses based on their own current academic interests, our faculty craft deep dives as portals into fascinating fields not usually explored at the middle school level. For example, our Head of School will bring his abiding fascination for trolley-car ethics puzzles to our middle school cadre. Other Deep Dives might include: an introduction to cuneiform, taught by one of the world’s 20 experts in this ancient writing system; a DNA forensics course taught by a Stanford-educated molecular biologist; an exploration of pop-culture cinema in relation to the hero’s journey in mythology, guided by our film studies expert; or an exploration of the ethics of a sentient roboticized workforce led by one of our resident philosophers.
Through our Quests – a series of interdisciplinary units that combine the best of Project-Based Learning and Experiential Education – students delve into a collective learning adventure based on a question or problem that both fascinates and excites them. To successfully complete their quest, students harness skills of inquiry, collaboration, exploration and experience. Crafted by the students with the aid of faculty mentors, a quest culminates in a meaningful, student-driven solution presented to the school community and outside experts. Quests equip our students to grapple with authentic issues and real-world problems, parsing through information to craft thoughtful analysis and useful recommendations – the most crucial element in the twenty-first century toolbox. As with all Areté coursework, Quests are designed to reinforce the skills, knowledge, and self-awareness needed to create passionate, autonomous, lifelong learners.
Semester 1: Exploration and More Exploration!
Fall at the Areté Middle School is all about delving into provocative subjects and ideas, based on the intellectual and artistic passions of our best-in-class teaching staff. These opportunities open the doors for student exploration of major concepts and modes of inquiry in Literature and Languages, History and Social Science, Science and Mathematics, Arts, and Philosophy. Each three-week exploratory experience involves a project-based learning component – hands-on learning built around a challenging topic of inquiry – and the opportunity for students to independently and creatively pursue sub-topics of interest while building the problem-solving, critical thinking and intellectual resilience skills that form the foundation for an effective Areté career.
Possible examples of passion-driven Explorations include:
Create Your Own Language. Led by our two resident linguists, students explore a range of living and ancient languages and apply their acquired understanding to design, codify, and teach a language of their own making.
Games People Play – Society and History as a Battle Of Big Ideas. Students gain exposure to big ideas, connections, and representative events in history, viewed through the lenses of religion, anthropology, psychology, and sociology. The project culminates in the creation and sharing of games encapsulating the major ideas and themes explored.
Olympic Boulevard Lives. Armed with cameras and a framework for crafting and shaping visual stories, students photograph the life and times of our neighbors on Olympic Boulevard. This project ends with students inviting our neighbors to a public gallery opening on campus.
Playing Frankenstein (Adaptation and Evolution). Students will be confronted with the challenge of designing from scratch a lifeform adapted to living within a certain biome (tundra, rain forest, etc.) and then evolving that lifeform over four iterations based on planetary climate and environmental change. Students will build models of their lifeform and analyze the changes their life form made to adapt to change.
Semester 2: Depth and More Depth!
In the second half of the year, our passionate faculty, guided by the developing interests of the students, work with the Middle School Director to craft focused, interdisciplinary academic units built around big ideas and high-interest topics. As intrinsically motivated learners, participants develop writing, thinking, speaking, problem solving, research, and artistic skills as they discover and explore topics of deep interest and identify connections among subjects and disciplines. In addition to ongoing math and language classes, our spring curriculum includes two innovative approaches to interdisciplinary learning: Deep Dives and Quests.