Not Born Yesterday
Dr. Summerhill, Head of School
Historians are fond of sayings that carry the weight of appearing self-evidently true. And when we hear them spoken, we instinctively nod our heads in agreement. “What goes around comes around,” has such a ring to it. And so does, “if we don’t learn the lessons of history, we will act as if we were born yesterday.”
While there is a lot of merit to living in the moment, if we never retain what we learned yesterday, and the day before, and the many days before that, we will live each day as if suffering from perpetual amnesia. In some cases ignorance may be bliss, but most of the time not knowing is a ticket to dependency, irrelevance and the manipulation of those who do know. At Ascension we believe that knowledge of the past as well as the present gives our students the power to think, decide and act.
In fact, we place such a high value on the accumulation of knowledge over time that we build into our schedule routine opportunities for our students to pull together what they have been exposed to in their classes so they may demonstrate how much they are learning. That is why we end each semester with comprehensive examinations in each of our major academic disciplines. And to help our students prepare for these exams we also test their understanding and recall of smaller units of study in end-of-marking period assessments.
This year we are implementing a Test Priority Day schedule that will reserve special days when teachers may evaluate students in a major assessment such as a test, paper, or large project. Two days/subject have been set aside in each of the two weeks prior to exams in order to protect students from being overwhelmed with more than 2 tests on any of these days, while guaranteeing teachers two days in which they may assess what their students have been learning during the second quarter of the year. Teachers may continue assigning homework or giving quizzes on any of these days. But they will be better able to coordinate any major graded assignments in a way that respects the needs of their students to prepare for these important subject area assessments.
One of the great lessons of history is that learning is a cumulative process, involving exposure, practice, review and opportunities to demonstrate their skill and competency. That formula holds true for the acquisition of knowledge in math, vocabulary, grammar, science and language, just as it is a proven strategy that produces excellence in the arts and athletics. And that is one of the important ways Ascension Academy helps develop students who can bring intelligence and ability to every new challenge they face, empowering them to act as if they weren’t born yesterday.