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At LIFE International School we believe that academic excellence can be found in a holistic hands-on approach that addresses the intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual needs of our students.

As parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is to ensure that our children receive an education that will help form and prepare them for a successful future. Choosing a school is not a decision that can be made lightly. We often consider the curriculum and academic rigor as the biggest decisive factors in our choice. Does the school offer an academic program that will prepare my child for university and eventually a successful career? Will my child gain skills in a second language, technology, or other areas that will give them a competitive edge with their peers? 

As both LIFE International School’s Curriculum Coordinator and the parent of two children, I understand the importance of those questions and strive to design our curriculum to meet those goals. However, during my years of experience as an educator and my own doctoral research, I have found that the secret to student success runs much deeper than that.

Academic excellence is a complex concept that involves more than educating the mind. There are many examples throughout history of brilliant men and women educated in top universities that have committed grave moral and ethical errors. One example is the highly educated Khmer Rouge leaders who were responsible for the decimation of forty percent of Cambodia’s population in the 1970s. Another is the Army General, Ratko Mladic, who led a brutal campaign during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. He was jailed for life for directing his troops in the worst atrocities of post-war Europe. 

These examples show that academic success cannot be measured by degrees alone as it must include a person’s soul as well as their mind. This leads us to two other important questions in school selection for a child: 1) What are the values and beliefs of the teachers with whom our children will be spending seven hours a day?, and 2) On what principles is the school’s philosophy of education based? 

At LIFE International School we believe that academic excellence can be found in a holistic hands-on approach that addresses the intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual needs of our students. This is reflected in the Expected Student Outcomes that form the backbone of our curriculum and point to what a graduate of our school will have attained. As a Christian School, we based those outcomes on Luke 2:52: ‚ÄúJesus increased in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and with people.‚ÄĚ This verse includes the criteria for academic excellence in four dimensions.

First, we see the intellectual dimension. Education without a doubt includes both knowledge and the intellect. However, wisdom is the ability to take knowledge we have received and apply it to every sphere of life. Students need to be taught how to make good decisions amidst the complexities, and sometimes the competing ethical claims, of life. At LIFE, this is done through a carefully planned curriculum that engages the students in activities that go beyond rote memorization and encourage critical thinking. We have high expectations for our students, encouraging them to be diligent in their work and not accepting the bare minimum. We want them to take pride in seeking excellence in their academics.  

Second, there is the physical dimension. We can do well with the mind, with intellect, and even with wisdom, but if we do not care for the body and the world around us, we will not have succeeded. Physical well-being impacts the whole person, leading to a more satisfying and successful life. Students need to be taught to make healthy lifestyle choices that affect both themselves and their environment.

A third dimension of education is social. Emotional maturity includes the development of effective interpersonal skills that include conflict resolution, communicating well, and listening to others. Teachers at LIFE aim to model healthy relationships as they teach students to love and respect others in word and deed. These are important skills that will serve the students well as they seek to be responsible citizens in their communities and workplaces.

The fourth dimension is spiritual. It is widely recognized that humans are spiritual beings. Many scholarly studies have investigated the role of spirituality in academic success with the general conclusion that spiritual growth positively enhances academic outcomes. We can have great intellect, great physical strength, and wonderful social skills, but without the spiritual dimension, something foundational is missing in our life. The teachers at our school model a life based on faith for their students and encourage them to know God and strive to be like Him.

In conclusion, academic excellence can be envisioned as a wheel with four spokes: the intellectual, the physical, the social, and the spiritual. All of these areas are intricately intertwined and essential to a well-rounded education that will equip students for a successful future. This is what we believe at LIFE International School and this is the type of education that I also choose for my own children.

 

Carol Paige, PHD. Assistant Director and Curriculum Coordinator

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