Understanding Our Educational Philosophy

When I recently Googled "adaptive expertise," I found that Wikipedia's explanation of the construct has claimed the top spot in the list of references and links to the cornerstone of our educational philosophy. (You may want to take a moment and click on the link. The explanation is actually helpful.)

Just a few years ago, the top online link for adaptive expertise would have been an article or lecture presented by an expert in the field of education such as John Bransford. The shift from Bransford to Wikipedia captures the move the concept has made from the realm of educational research to the marketplace of culturally current. More and more people believe we need to look at the challenges confronting us with a different mindset.

But adaptive expertise is more than a concept at Cannon School. It's something that we as teachers, parents, and students consider daily in our respective roles. We create opportunities to talk about it, to live it in the classroom, and to build creative partnerships between parents and the school. The type of expertise we advocate is built upon effort and a daily commitment to hard work. This type of expertise includes habits of mind and habits of spirit that acknowledge there is more to learn.

I am convinced that Cannon School has a responsibility to prepare our students for an unpredictable world. Our model is built upon a presupposition that children are learners who come into classrooms wanting to continue to make sense of things and to construct meaning. Our model encourages our teachers to begin by asking students what they think about and know on the topic at hand. And our teachers take those insights to guide students in asking the right questions and in breaking down the problem into the essential pieces. The goal is to equip our students to learn how to learn.

Further afield, Cannon School's commitment to adaptive expertise acknowledges that today's and tomorrow's jobs will call for people who have skill sets that transcend boundaries between one profession and the next, who have the emotional quotient to contribute on teams of individuals bringing important perspectives, and who realize that challenges and opportunities exist in a global market.

Even though I have dedicated my professional life to the calling of education, I have never maintained that education, in and of itself, has the power to save the world or an individual. But education is a complement and companion to faith and family, and adaptive expertise, as a cornerstone to an educational philosophy, confronts life’s challenges both seen and unforeseen and offers our children the opportunity to meet them head on with resolve and a true sense of hope.


Matt Gossage
Head of School

Habits of Adaptive Expertise

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Habits of Adaptive Expertise Defined

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Cannon School

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