In most cases, critical thinking and problem solving are effective if students think outside the box. A traditional classroom often keeps students thinking narrowly, because they are not given the tools they need to think critically or develop problem-solving skills. Traditional schools offer limited opportunities for students to think outside of the box, and often students are not getting the successful outcomes they need.
Charter schools offer freedom of thought to students and opportunities to use their imagination to generate new ideas. Da Vinci Design, a charter school located in Los Angeles, opened its doors in 2009 and serves kindergarten through twelfth grade students. Da Vinci prepares students for college and a career in design through project-based learning (PBL)—a learn-by-doing approach that integrates core subjects with real-life problems to be solved. Emily, a former student says, “The best thing about Da Vinci is the project-based learning. I’m a hands-on person and enjoy putting my time and effort into projects.” Examples of such projects include designing and building Medieval-style catapults to demonstrate mastery of quadratic equations or by analyzing advertisements in order to refine persuasive media techniques. Another example, Orange Charter School, located in Hillsborough, NC uses a workshop model for teaching Math, Reading, & Writing in order to instill independence in students. Many other charter schools think outside the box to tailor curriculum that fits the specific needs of students.
Also, the Academy for Science & Design (ASD), a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School located in Merrimack New Hampshire, prides itself on challenging students through rigorous academic assignments. In addition to homework designed to challenge students, ASD offers six to eight week seminars in specific focus areas such as art and music ensemble. Parents, teachers, and community members may teach these seminars, bringing their diverse backgrounds