Education for the 21st Century

Education for the 21st Century
Putting learners at the center.
Violeta Lopiz

The Whittle education synthesizes the best thinking in learning science to cultivate passionate, agile scholars and knowledge that is enduring and transferable. 

Download our Global Curriculum Guide here:

Curriculum Guide


Our Core Beliefs:

We believe that students learn and grow best when they are at the center of their learning.   

Personalized, project-based, student-centered, immersive, and experiential education—what many call “progressive pedagogy”—leads to true mastery by making skills and knowledge “sticky,” placing learning in a meaningful context, empowering students to drive their education, and appealing to a student’s passions. This constellation of approaches permits students to find meaning in a world where information is easily available, but where deep understanding and purposeful application of that knowledge is harder to achieve.  

We believe that curiosity and exploration lie at the foundation of learning.  

We have all experienced that moment when, driven by our curiosity, our sense of time slips away and we achieve what some educational experts call “flow”—when we are fully immersed in our work. Curiosity is the fundamental unit of learning. “I wonder..” and “I want to know more about…” are statements that will lead naturally from problem articulation to problem-solving, both activities central to truly individualized and student-centered learning. The product is both mastery and agency—the sense in the student that they know how to identify and solve problems, while taking intellectual risks (and possibly failing) along the way.  

We believe in students as agents—makers, problem-solvers, and innovators.  

For many of us, curiosity dampened as we moved through our education. Sitting through lectures, doing drills, slogging through problem-sets, or preparing for standardized tests could discourage even the most engaged students. The old model, rooted in an industrial culture, saw students as products to fill with knowledge. Today’s model, growing out of a global innovation economy, must see students as critical thinkers who can identify the right questions, find the best data, synthesize solutions, and create meaningful change. We seek to build a model for education that engages student curiosity and passion. 

We believe that true mastery comes through active engagement, collaborative experiences, and deep immersion rather than passive reception, repetition, and regurgitation.  

How do we cultivate student curiosity, passion, and agency while assuring mastery of skills and knowledge? The answer rests in the concept of “stickiness,” or the quality of permanence through meaning. The more ways in which a fact is connected to different contexts and experiences, the more synapses are formed and the more ways your brain can access, manipulate, and apply it, making that fact become more permanent, meaningful, and usable. The emotions of debate, the experience of exploring a city, the thrill of playing roles, the hands-on mastery of laboratory experimentation, and the challenge of decision-making all make knowledge “sticky.” Student-driven, experiential, and problem-based learning makes for deeper and more integrated mastery, and helps develop true self-possession, creativity, and a sense of both personal responsibility and agency. Contextualized and experiential learning permit students to own their learning in new and exciting ways while they master the skills and knowledge they need. 

We believe in teachers as both experts and lifelong learners who understand the science, art, and craft of teaching and seek always to improve their practice.   

In all of our innovation we are guided by our deep experience in education and in the quickly growing science of learning. In recent decades, and at an accelerating rate, we have come to understand how the human brain functions. Science offers a rich understanding of the interconnected nature of sensory, motor, and emotional experience with knowledge acquisition, permanence, and synthesis. At the same time, teaching is also an art and a craft, and, at Whittle, we hire those who have developed their craft to the highest level and give our teachers the time and resources to continually grow as professionals. Making use of the science, art, and craft of learning across our network will allow our teachers and advisors to create a learning experience that will fill each student’s journey with rigor, challenge, agency, purpose, and joy.