Differences Between Progressive and Traditional Schools (Part 4)

Here are statements from two excellent but very different L.A. private elementary schools, Westland in Los Angeles and Carlthorp in Santa Monica. It can be helpful to read a school’s mission statements, code-of-conduct and other self-descriptions to learn more about its approach to education. Then, comparing and contracting traditional and progressive schools highlights the differences in educational philosophies, how students acquire knowledge, core values and mission of the school.  Many schools are a hybrid of several philosophies, while others like those below are examples of schools which stick close to their guiding educational philosophies and are able to clear articulate this fact. 

Welcome to Westland!
Westland School, Los Angeles

Westland School’s Philosophy

“Among elementary schools in Los Angeles, Westland is widely known and respected as a pioneer in the teaching philosophy known as progressive education. This philosophy evolved in recognition of the limitations of traditional education and its emphasis on training children to memorize and recite large amounts of information. As we enter the 21st-century, information storage has clearly become the domain of technology, but our most human traits—the ability to wonder, to think critically, to question, to share, to create, and to care about each other—are timeless and uniquely valuable. These are the qualities that Westland has sought to develop in our students since our founding more than 60 years ago.”


Carlthorp School, Santa Monica
Carlthorp School, Santa Monica

Carlthorp’s Mission Statement

“Dedicated to the academic, social, and emotional growth of children, our highly qualified faculty and staff create a nurturing environment that inspires children to become life-long learners.  Rigorous academics, including foreign language, are balanced with music, art, drama, and physical education.  Accelerated classes challenge the gifted, and specialists make learning fun for everyone.

Traditionally academic in approach within a warm and secure setting, Carlthorp School’s philosophy stresses our Code of Conduct and the cohesiveness of all constituents of the School’s family.  Students live by the “Code,” which becomes a permanent part of their being.  All children strive to do their personal best, inside school and out.

Carlthorp School graduates are prepared to face the rigors of private independent secondary school and the challenges of life.  Not only are they talented critical thinkers and speakers, they are also good citizens who are responsible, respectful, and kind.”

BTB Co-Author Anne Simon’s New “Life”

Anne Simon headshot 2014
Anne Simon

1.Tell us a bit about your new Life Coaching endeavor! 

In a way I have just formalized what I have been doing during all of my personal and professional life. As a parent, teacher and educational administrator I spent a large portion of my time and energy dealing with the inevitable issues that arise as children and families grow and learn; child development, work/family balance, etc. As a therapeutic foster parent, I received a lot of training and experience supporting adolescents and young adults in defining their life’s purpose and goals and figuring out how to make their own dreams come true. Becoming a Life Coach is a natural progression for me; I have developed additional skills that are used to listen deeply, ask meaningful questions, clarify goals and determine strategies and accountabilities for reaching those goals. To me, it is taking parenting, teaching and education to a new professional level and it is a way to share the lessons I have learned through both my professional and life experience.


2. You’re also continuing to offer educational guidance to a select few clients. Can you describe these services?

I am happy to work with families who are embarking on the journey of finding and applying to private/independent schools. I know how these schools operate very intimately and I can assist parents in learning about what kinds of schools are out there and what type of school might be best for their family. I do not do the traditional educational consulting that is offered by those professionals who have built personal relationships with individual schools and admissions directors and advocate directly with these schools for their clients. I work with parents to define and articulate an educational mission statement for their family as well as learn about and choose the schools that seem to be a good fit. From there I shepherd them through the process of the applications and support their ownership of that process. I review applications, help prepare for interviews, brainstorm recommendations, and make sure none of the necessary steps are missed. I am thrilled to help the families who want to maintain control of this most personal and important family building experience.


3. You have such incredible life experience as a wonderful mom, my step-mom, grandmother, foster-mom, wife and educator. How will these experiences help your clients?

I don’t know about the “wonderful” part – I have faced as many challenges and have as many regrets as anyone. But I have had a tremendous amount of experience, so the quantity and variety of my time in these roles has given me the opportunity to reflect, grow, change, and learn some things about what works and what doesn’t. Knowing oneself, knowing what you really value, and striving for the emotional maturity and perspective necessary to realize the life you want does not come without some deep consideration. I want to share the lessons I have learned and use the skills I have acquired to assist others in gaining some of this self-insight and finding the clarity, goals and strategies they need to achieve the life they really want.


4. How do the logistics work if a client wants to work with you and they aren’t in your city?

Coaching is done most often on the phone. Some of us are used to having good, meaningful conversations with friends or family when we need to figure something out. It is often a similar experience to that, albeit with a professional guide and a proven structure to the work. When I work with a client in another part of the country, we set up a regular time to speak on the phone for a prescribed amount of time, usually 45-60 minutes. We establish an agreement for a certain number of sessions. During these conversations we establish a real relationship that becomes quite close, one based on gaining trust, exploring dreams and establishing goals. I become your companion along the way, supporting you and holding you accountable for the actions you choose to take in pursuit of your goals.

At the end of the determined number of sessions, we either establish a new agreement or we end our work together, and you continue on your life’s journey with a new or renewed sense of self and purpose, considered goals and actions, and the knowledge that you can always connect with me to find support.


5. What’s the best advice you can offer parents who are waiting for March 2014 admissions letters?

My best advice is to stay open to all possibilities. Private school admissions is a daunting process and it can seem that if things don’t go just the way you most want them too that all is lost – but this is NEVER the case. There is not only one school for your child. Sometimes there are reasons why things don’t go the way you expect. Stay focused on your core family educational values and be willing to continue to work toward them. Embrace the journey!


Thank you, Anne! For more information, click on The Journey Coach. 

Beyond The Brochure’s “Compelling Schools, Competitive Admissions” in L.A. Parent Magazine


LA Parent Cover March 2014

I’m super-excited to contribute an article about L.A. private elementary school admissions to the March 2014 issue of L.A. Parent Magazine.


“Compelling Schools, Competitive Admissions” in this month’s issue, is an overview piece that covers the essentials of private elementary school admissions in Los Angeles. But, even if you already have a solid grasp on admissions basics, you might want to check it out to see if there’s new information! –Christina


Click on LA Parent to read the article and click to Page 14.