Pros of Socratic Method and Spontaneous Curriculum

When families considering TIC ask about our technology curriculum, they probably don’t expect to hear us describe it as “spontaneous.” We teach the counselors to get to know the campers first and foremost, while also sharing their passions within their given tech expertise. They are also the guides that help create the initial bond with the camper’s partner. The curriculum won’t work unless there is initial trust in both relationships.

Right from the start, our counselors spend time figuring out what their campers’ likes and dislikes are, quick to point out synergies between the partners so the two can work toward common goals. Rather than being talked at, told things to memorize, or being limited to choosing a project from a list, the campers can discover key concepts on their own as someone with experience guides them through the learning process. Individualized emphasis on our campers’ interests is key.

Our goal is to create a perfect cross section of a camper’s interests and curiosities and the counselors’ knowledge and passion. When you see it in action, it is truly magical. Our staff benefit from our process, as well, as it gives them creative independence they may have yet to experience in their schooling or profession. While our staff adheres to general guidelines and learning goals, the camper/counselor relationship is what determines when and how things are taught to each individual camper.

We understand that having a list of projects to choose from can be comforting for some folks, but we shy away from lists because we have seen the amazing things that can be brought to life when you expect complete originality. We want campers to be creative- the sky is the limit and each summer we have campers that make something we’ve never seen before!

Of course, our counselors start with the basics and set the foundation of knowledge to build on, but we also want the campers to feel empowered in their own learning process. When campers are given the opportunity to direct conversations and express what they are interested in, they become invested in their personal growth and development. Having this open line of communication helps to create a fun and effective learning environment.

To further this unique relationship between camper and counselor, we also use the Socratic method. Campers end up far more invested in their projects when taught using the Socratic method than by normal teaching methods. Rather than simply giving campers the answers, we create a more organic process that allows them to think critically, use previous knowledge and practice trial and error in order to connect the dots. (Another great reason for our 1:4 counselor to camper ratio!) The result is that they feel that they actually solved the problems themselves. Beyond the encouraging sense of accomplishment that comes with this process, studies have shown that kids internalize the information better when learning this way. This is also why they do all the work themselves. We specifically train our counselors to teach, guide, and coach, but almost never use the mouse or computer themselves.

Another benefit of the Socratic Method is that campers are more likely to fail while trying to make something work during the learning process. Because our staff don’t give kids the answers, they allow our campers to make mistakes, help them understand why it’s not working, and then support them during the troubleshooting process. That’s real life. That builds resilience and grit and strong problem solving skills. We’re not just here to teach your camper technology, we’re here to teach them how to thrive in the technology industry. How can you feel success if you have never failed?

If you have questions about our spontaneous curriculum or the Socratic Method, please reach out to us at 703-876-2868 or email Emily Riedel at [email protected]

OUR EARLY BIRD RATE ENDS JANUARY 3rd, 2020!!! Enroll now and see the spontaneous curriculum in action!