In my second private school I started, Bios Christian Academy, another teacher and I would apply our interpretation of the Oxford method of instruction to those high school students who had mastered our advanced studies in math, science or writing.
Advanced studies means different things at different schools. For us, it would mean a student had finished calculus, at least one advanced science or shown consistent advanced skills writing.
Our regular students would have been considered advanced at most, if not all, Arizona high schools. The few high school students who left to go to a public or charter school either entered at the top of their class in skills or were told their skills were too high and they should go straight to college. And these were our underclassmen and lower skilled students.
While there is no set definition to the Oxford Method of Instruction and from my research, not all instruction at Oxford uses the Oxford Method, it essentially allows a student to have a personalized education individually or with a small group and the instructor.
Oxford is a research university in Oxford , England. It has been around maybe as early as 1096. Is is an interesting university, made up of 39 constituent colleges, all of which are self-governing institutions within the university. There is no main campus, with the college buildings scattered throughout Oxford.
The Oxford Method essentially is a process where a student is assigned or chooses a project to work on. The tutor for the individual or small group is an expert in their field. Here is a quote from an Oxford student. " Each week I was required to complete one ot two several thousand word essays, ticking off sources from a reading list as I went by. I was encouraged to read beyond the facts, to make my own assumptions and to prove and disprove theories. Another shock for me that now - for the first time - my opinion actually mattered. Rather than simply regurgitating the textbook, tutors were asking me what I thought." Adam
In the Oxford Method of instruction, the exchange of ideas is relied on with students having to present and defend their opinions. How did this educational approach apply to my last school? With students who had advanced skills, we would usually assign them to a teacher who had skills in that area they wanted to work towards more personalized skills.
But sometimes we would assign a teacher who had little knowledge in the student's area of interest. We found that the student would have to have a more thorough knowlege of their subject in order to convince the teacher who was not in their area of study.
Other times we brought in outside experts to hold the student accountable for his goals.
An example of us using the Oxford Method, our interpretation, was when a senior wanted to begin developing a professional writing career. He had to present a plan of how he was going to pursue writing for different publications, how we would grade him, and scheduled times to meet with his instructor. He was very successful in this endeavor, eventually writing a blog for a tech compnay in New York City.
Another student wanted to explore a career in physical therapy. She found a physical therapist who developed a plan for her to serve half of each school day at her clinic with goals and grading examples built in.
My last example is a student wanted to create a guide to eating as a vegetarian. Again, a plan was developed along with a timeline for when each segment of her presentation needed to be completed.
How does all this apply to students at New Park Street Christian Academy? Our students will be diligently developing the basic skills that will allow them to be able to move onto more advanced skills that move them into being able to apply their advanced skills into practical applications.
All the students involved with the Oxford Method had to have a solid grounding in knowledge for them to apply that knowledge. Hard work and diligence were needed to attain the opportunity to apply their skills let alone to think about a project to use their skills.
I am Tim Ihms, the founder, head master, instructor, book keeper, and part time custodian at New Park Street Christian Academy. The blogs on this page are written for the parents of New Park Street students and for those who may be interested in sending their child to the school some day.