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Paideia Schools for Creative Thinking: Certification and Accreditation Process

The journey to becoming a fully realized Paideia School for Creative Thinking typically takes three to four years and involves three stages of growth and development.

Stages of Transformation

Stage 1: Paideia Socratic Seminar

The first stage in that journey involves school-wide implementation of, and eventual certification in, the Paideia Seminar, which includes adult as well as student discussion of ideas and values. The Paideia Seminar is a collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text. The entire seminar cycle engages students in multiple close readings of a text, formal speaking and listening about that text, followed by the writing process. In this way it includes instruction in all the core literacy skills and nurtures critical and creative thinking. The Paideia Seminar embodies thought and discussion, two of the three fundamental, 21st century skills.

Stage 2: Paideia Classroom

The second stage in the journey toward Accreditation involves the consistent implementation of the three columns of Paideia teaching and learning in all classrooms. This program integrates didactic instruction of information, intellectual coaching of academic skills, and seminar discussion of ideas and values into a pedagogical whole greater than the sum of its parts. Certification in the Paideia Classroom means that rigor and equity are self-evident 100% of classroom time, setting the stage for the Paideia Project.

Stage 3: Paideia Project

The third stage features the school-wide implementation of, and eventual certification in, the Paideia Project. The Paideia Project, which includes the Paideia Seminar, is a unit of study, centered on ideas and values, culminating in a product or performance wherein students demonstrate mastery of a subject to an audience outside the classroom. In this manner, students produce work of authentic value, learning to act with conviction in the real world. And by this stage in the school’s maturation, students are learning to think, discuss, and act (our three 21st century fundamental skills) in anticipation of the challenges of mid-century life.

Once a school community has successfully completed these three cycles of Certification, it will qualify for Accreditation as a fully realized Paideia School for Creative Thinking and become an educational beacon for all educators who wish to prepare their students for the future.

Accreditation Process

A school that is engaged in becoming a Paideia School for Creative Thinking moves through Stages 1, 2, and 3 with training and guidance from the National Paideia Center.

Each stage (except for the first) starts with a Comprehensive Needs Assessment that helps to tailor program implementation to the school community. Each stage also includes a Leading Implementation Institute, held annually in the summer for school leaders; on-site professional development for the staff and on-site modeling and coaching during the school year; and culminates in a second Comprehensive Needs Assessment at the end of the year. Assuming the school has made the necessary progress, it is then certified in that stage of the journey.

Each of these cycles is profoundly collaborative, in that several members of the National Paideia Center core staff and/or National Faculty work closely with the school leadership to nurture and coach that stage of program implementation. Because this evolution requires a true paradigm shift in order to be successful, we assume a no-fault, developmental approach that recognizes both the unique nature of each school community as well as the fidelity of the program elements.

For the details of each implementation cycle, we have developed rubrics that accompany Paideia Seminar Certification, Paideia Classroom Certification, and Paideia Project Certification/School for Creative Thinking Accreditation. Please contact us to discuss our process in more detail, including each of these rubrics.