Core Program

Atheneum is based on the conviction that learning takes place only through a personal and active search for the truth about the world. This personal and active relation to learning begins in wonder and is sustained by the challenges and accomplishments involved with sincere learning. It inspires the whole person's physical and mental commitment to a continuing study of fundamental principles, and naturally leads to the transformation of character. Accordingly, Atheneum's programs ensure that wonder, challenge, and accomplishment have pride of place in the daily activity of the school. Socratic inquiry is one of the principal means by which the school ensures this. Students and teachers meet in seminars and close-reading groups where they openly discuss and come to an understanding of difficult and original texts, including works of fine art and scientific experiments. Each student is held responsible for understanding, articulating, and defending his or her own thoughts, while upholding the rules of logic, relevance, good manners and honesty. Moreover, because the students discuss texts that are often beyond their own individual abilities, they come to expect active and honest participation from each other, and thus learn the importance of dependability and responsibility through the daily expectations of their peers. As students actively participate in Socratic inquiry they acquire the skills necessary for accurate and penetrating consideration of all major kinds of texts. This manner of studying an author's thought allows them to discover the patterns of logical and persuasive thinking not only in the author but also in themselves and their peers. Through collaborative inquiry students learn to articulate their own thoughts and questions and to listen intently to others. By means of this interactive method and smaller class sizes, the teacher has an ongoing awareness of each student's progress. The Atheneum teacher is in the best position to evaluate the student's abilities and interests, and thus is in the best position to teach. The students, for their part, are in the best position to learn since they are initiating and directing their own learning. Learning by means of self-initiation is the most effective way for students to learn for success in school, work, and life. In each year of Atheneum's six-year program all students study mathematics, science, writing composition, history and social studies, and philosophy. The daily practice of higher level thinking, reading, and writing in longer class periods ensures that students will gain the essential skills of mind. In addition, high quality original texts enable students to integrate their learning and thus retain and understand more. Daily tutorials, two-week Intensive Studies each semester, and special overnight excurs ions (e.g., to the Shorebird Festival in Homer) complement the seminars and give students the opportunities to pursue subjects in greater depth. Atheneum's Program gives students a working structure to insure a progression in learning. Counselors and faculty will help students meet the credit requirements for graduation, organize courses that require prerequisites, or tailor their course of study to specific college needs. The Program also allows students to choose and create more of their course of study as they advance through the Program (see Senior Year at Atheneum). The Atheneum Program provides the opportunity for students of all ages and grades to teach and learn with each other in a supportive community. Atheneum takes a unique approach to evaluating students: the evaluation supports the students' growth in character and integrity. This evaluation continues the united effort of teachers and students to educate themselves. The school evaluates a student's performance on the basis of daily seminar participation, regular written and oral assignments and examinations, and national standardized exams.
Atheneum School is a non-profit 501c3 Corporation. All donations are tax-deductible. Atheneum School admits qualified students & staff members of any gender, race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color and national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs administered by the school.