New Roads School Magic is in the Mess

By Sam Skopp

As a college preparatory independent school, New Roads offers an academically rigorous curriculum and an impressive array of electives to its K-12 students. While they still find a thorough grounding in the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to be necessary, New Roads argues that this century
calls for a more inspired–and sometimes messier–approach to learning.

“Real learning demands a process of trial-and-error: students must be courageous enough to make mistakes, to initially do something poorly, to fall into confusion, to get stuck, and to find the perseverance to continue pursuing answers; and teachers and parents must believe in children enough to let them do so,” said Head of School Luthern Williams.

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New Roads asserts that it is in this messy process that creative methods to solve complex, real-world problems can be discovered. By diving into the mess, children are able to develop the capacity to meet the opportunities and challenges their generation will face in the 21st Century.

“Our students know the magic is in the mess,” said Williams.

New Roads is also committed to maintaining a diverse student body. New Roads students don’t just read about diversity but also live in an environment in which they interact both inside and outside of class with students and adults whose differences mirror those of both Los Angeles and the larger global community. Every year, 40 – 50 percent of New Roads students are non-white. New Roads students reside in over 80 zip codes in the greater Los Angeles area. To sustain this rich level of diversity, New Roads provides its students with a total of $8 million in financial aid every year. Research is now confirming the theory at the heart of New Roads’ approach to learning: diversity improves the way people think.

“By disrupting conformity, racial and ethnic diversity prompts people to scrutinize facts, think more deeply and develop their own opinions,” reported the New York Times in an article titled Diversity Makes You Brighter published on December 12.

Beginning in their elementary school years, New Roads students begin to develop the essential capacity to transcend differences and collaborate with others from diverse backgrounds. In addition, critical thinking and problem solving strategies have been shown to increase tenfold as a result of learning with diverse students and adults.

New Roads is completing a redesign of its elementary school campus in West L.A. this summer in order to create new educational spaces to support its messy exploration process. New Roads invites the community to visit an upcoming open house to learn more about this very uncommon private school. Visit newroads.org/page/apply for an open house schedule, or go to newroads.org for more.

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