The Ventana Choice
Ventana is an independent school with a decisive difference. When compared to other public and private schools in the Bay area, the state, and even the nation, Ventana’s commitment to the ‘whole-child’ is more than marketing jargon. We have studied the research from educational futurists. We have evaluated the skills they posit will be vital to success in this next century of globalization and interdependence. Focusing, as some schools continue to do, on discreet or ‘siloed’ skills-in-isolation breeds intellectual disconnect and fosters competition around test results; and, there will always be someone “better” equipped to score 100% on the next test. Cooperation and synthesis, the antithesis of competition, are abilities children will be required to maintain to succeed in our 21st Century world. Hurrying children through academic content, at the expense of social skill development, will not, in the long-run, provide children the grounding in self-reliance and ‘creative confidence’ needed to thrive in this increasingly complex world.
At Ventana we work our magic from the inside out. Our educational programming is not a teacher give -- child receive “transactional” procedure. The Ventana School program provides a solid core of social competence rather than a fragile shell of academic accomplishment. And in doing so we arrive at the same levels of scholastic achievement proclaimed by other public and private schools. Our students, being comfortable with their ability to solve problems and negotiate outcomes, do extraordinarily well in public middle school situations as well as private schools.
• We choose not to accelerate our youngsters through educational content or push them to attain skills beyond their developmental ages. We fully understand that the special gift of academic aptitude for any subject, be it language, math, or science, will never disappear! We challenge. We differentiate. But there is no hurry.
• We choose to maintain an age-appropriate balance of academics and physical growth that permits children to be children.
• We choose to use curated academic content as a vehicle for learning both cognitive and life-affirming skills rather than to slavishly adhere to prescriptive sets of standards.
• We choose to integrate every content area (e.g. music, art, STEM, literacy, math, writing) under big question topics that generate engaging investigation, and to connect related ideas to form an active and vibrant learning ecosystem.
• We choose to focus on interpersonal skills like leadership, initiative, and perspective taking; social skills that underpin a lifetime.
• We choose to teach, practice, and expect cooperation, respectful communication, and citizenship.
• We choose to foster curiosity and to cultivate knowledge through self-motivation and service to others.
• We choose to prize self-reflection, perseverance, and metacognitive thought.
But most importantly…
• We choose to provide countless and wide-ranging opportunities for our students to discover widely, to follow their passions and interests, to think critically and question deeply, and to demonstrate their boundless creativity.
Our emphasis on social and emotional development, on those so called ‘soft skills,’ is calculated. These skills are fundamental to learning and to our Reggio-approach to education. To us, these skills are only ‘soft’ in the manner of being elastic and malleable. They cannot be assessed by pencil and paper tests or reported in a newspaper. Rather, they must be evaluated anecdotally through observation and documentation; both fundamental tenets of our Reggio philosophy. This is what we do. This is what we report as COMPETENCIES at the top of our student reports.
We welcome your visit during a tour. See the school in action!