Academic Philosophy

Scattergoodians are empowered to learn through real exploration and discovery.

When was the last time you learned something well and enjoyed doing it, whether it was how to ride a bike, build a desk, or integrate a function? You probably cared about what you were learning, and worked hard to get better at it. You may have had a friend or a mentor who helped guide you toward the resources you needed, who inspired your learning, who asked good questions and gave you examples. Most importantly, you were the one actively doing the learning.

At Scattergood, we believe that this is how learning works: students need to be inspired, challenged and guided throughout the process; they need to take risks and push themselves. It certainly helps if they have some freedom in how and what they study. We believe that a Scattergood student should be doing work that makes a difference outside of the classroom, for example:

  • Designing a new classroom building in partnership with a local architecture firm
  • Creating an anthology of our writing and interviews about the immigrant experience
  • Presenting our independent research on sustainable agricultural practices
  • Producing a video about segregation in Iowa City, then sharing it with local middle schoolers

In all of these instances, students pay attention not only to the final product of their learning, but also to the process, consistently analyzing the ways in which their work could have more of an impact. We learn by questioning, acting, working, thinking, creating--not by occupying a chair.