Spiral Education begins with the idea that any student can be taught any subject, no matter the level of preparation or educational development. No topic is ‘too hard’ or ‘too advanced’ when presented properly.
In Spiral Education subject matter is revisited in a recursive manner over extended periods of time so that the student builds on a foundation until full understanding is reached. It is a process where the student is trained to participate in the business of developing knowledge.
Spiral Education is a program that educates the whole person with rigorous academics, high expectations, an atmosphere created for personal and professional development. Along the way there is time to develop the habits that will lead to success in the future. It is also an environment where students of all levels can try out ideas and make mistakes—an important component of self-confidence rooted in competence.
Three/Four-Year Diploma Program
Liberty Harbor re-envisions the typical concept of high school and higher education into a three or four year diploma program. While many private high schools have an additional year available and colleges regularly take five years to complete, the founders of LHA propose to provide a different vision. At graduation students will have the body of knowledge and social skills that will allow them to immediately enter the workforce or be highly competitive should they opt for higher education in a specific field. The goal of the LHA education is to provide the student with an education equal to the traditional liberal arts college prior to the late twentieth century ‘educational reform.’
Classical Liberal Arts Education
Students will not focus on learning from textbooks and secondary sources but will read and discuss the primary sources on which culture is based. Some classes, such as math and science, will use a mixture of primary sources and textbooks. In addition to teaching using primary sources wherever possible, knowledge will be seen as building blocks for the rest of a student’s education. Interdisciplinary connections will be encouraged, breaking down the strict boundaries between fields of knowledge and fostering students’ creativity through intersections between classes rather than limiting them to in-class responses.
Humanities Core Centered in Mimetic Theory
Mimetic theory is an explanation for human behavior and culture centered on understanding imitative human desire as the source of rivalry, scapegoating and violence. Educating in mimetic theory offers a possible antidote for these cultural issues and gives students potent tools for countering these phenomena in society.
Each student will be assigned a faculty member who will be responsible for the development of the student. As more than a supervisor who ensures basic competencies are in place, the mentors are there to identify and encourage individual student interests through individualized instruction and guidance.
Harkness Table Classrooms
While some of the core classes will use both lectures and discussion, most classes will be conducted at least in part around the Harkness Table. These tables are specifically designed to foster small-group dialogue within the classroom and engagement with the material for the students. The ‘Harkness Method’ is used by many fine schools including St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and Philips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire. The Harkness Table and the Method of teaching was ‘invented’ at PEA in Exeter.
Every student will be offered the opportunity to act as a classroom assistant to the instructor and to take on responsibility for teaching certain aspects of the material to fellow students. Click here to read the Classroom Assistant Guidelines.
Etiquette and Social Training
Manners and etiquette usage is the method by which people living in a society show respect for others, especially strangers. The number one response of corporate human resource people when asked what is missing from college graduates is social graces. Graduates from LHA will know how to present themselves, speak clearly, spell, write, and think. In addition, they will understand levels of authority and personal responsibility. In short, they will be comfortable stepping into the world at the position of their choosing.
After the first year of the Program and upon obtaining the age of 16, students are eligible for working internships at local corporations. These internships, based on the Cristo Rey model, will not only provide multiple years of work experience but will also help to pay student’s tuition. Therefore the years where the students are working will only cost 60% of the first year. LHA students graduate with a resume.
Should the student decide to pursue higher education, we will complete articulation agreements with a number of schools who will allow students to have college credit for some LHA classes or allow LHA students to attend their schools for college credit. The University of New Hampshire at Manchester has already agreed in principle to the process and we are pursuing development of the final agreement.
Graduation When You Are Ready
As students gain knowledge and skills at teaching themselves, there is a time when they are ready to move on. When that time comes—and if the mentor/advisor agrees——then the student will apply to graduate. Once the application is accepted by the administration, the student will prepare, along with a faculty member, a ‘portfolio of competence’ focused on a particular field or endeavor. The student will also schedule their graduation presentation—an hour-long defense of his/her learning before fellow students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, board of trustees, invitees, and general public. Questions will be fielded from the audience and the student will be allowed to ‘pass’ on two. Otherwise, the potential graduate will field queries from the audience concerning their learning experiences, connections to current events, and aspirations for the future.