Pedagogical Glossary

It is our job, as educators, to be fluently versed in our pedagogy. However, we understand how overwhelming it can be for parent, guardian, or other educational advocate to keep track of the vocabulary, especially in an environment like 2nd Nature Academy, which has a highly tailored and uniquely designed curriculum. Therefore, we have put together this glossary of pedagogical terms that are frequently employed when describing and discussing a 2nd Nature Academy education. Find some of our most commonly employed pedagogical phrases below.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is an intellectual process that stands as the foundation of an education at 2nd Nature Academy. (It is even referenced in our mission statement.) In a day and age in which so much information—and misinformation—is at our fingertips, it has become more important than ever to think critically, a skillset that is often not taught or modeled in traditional school settings. So, what is “critical thinking,” exactly? In its simplest form, it can be defined as “careful thinking directed to a goal” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Digging deeper, the components of critical thinking include:

  • Conceptualization
  • Interpretation
  • Analysis
  • Inference
  • Explanation/communication
  • Application
  • Self-regulation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Problem-solving

Integrated curriculum

Integrated curriculum is a way of teaching that attempts to break down barriers between subjects and make learning more meaningful to students. The idea is to teach around themes that students can identify with. Major concepts are culled from broad themes and activities are planned that teach or inform of these concepts. Integrated curriculum requires accessing knowledge from all of the traditional subjects without labeling them as such. In addition, integrated curriculum adds inquiry, problem-solving, real-world application and social consciousness to the learning process, making it a more comprehensive way of educating and of learning.

Experiential education

In experiential education, the student becomes more actively involved in the learning process than in traditional didactic education. For example, going on a hike to observe changes in the forest environment is more meaningful than reading about this topic in a book. However, experiences alone do not necessarily promote learning. Therefore, educators must set goals and arrange experiences that will help achieve these goals.

Inquiry-based learning

Inquiry is defined as “seeking information or knowledge through the process of questioning.” We innately carry out the process of inquiry from the moment we are born. However, our traditional education system often discourages the natural process of inquiry. In fact, in many schools’ students are taught not ask too many questions but rather to quietly listen and then regurgitate the answers when prompted. Typically, inquiry-based learning is broken down into four main parts: posing real questions, finding relevant resources, interpreting information, and reporting findings.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Project-Based Learning (alternatively referred to as “Problem-Based Learning”) is a pedagogy where students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to an authentic question, problem, or challenge. Students gain a deeper understanding through the process of active exploration.

  • PBL provides a unique opportunity to help students practice critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
  • When students are directly involved in planning and steering projects, they are more invested in their learning.
  • Students are more engaged when learning relates directly to the world they live in.

Place-based education

Place-based education immerses students in local communities by employing students and staff in solving community-based problems. Through engagement in local heritage, cultures, history, economy, landscapes, and ecology, students gain a sense of place. Students actively learn through the integration of language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science while participating in service projects for the school and local communities.

Service learning

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Service-learning combines service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity changes both the recipient and the provider of the service. This is accomplished by combining service tasks with structured opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge content.