Strengths: Location (Bloor and Bedford) Building: Renovated Mansion brings a sense of comfort and community. Class Size: 2 to 6 students Homework Club: Free, four days a week Teachers: highly educated, kind, caring people, even (and especially) to teenagers! Principal: no words can do justice. go meet Dr.Fox. Students: all students get along, grade 7 will go have lunch with kids in grade 12, they look out for each other, everyone knows everyone Culture: be who you are with the respect that everyone is being who they are, think, analyze, discuss EVERYTHING, creativity is powerful. Program: runs like a university; Socratic method, small group discussions, high quality written work cultivated, oral presentations, creativity, learning strategies. Weakness: not affordable for most
The Dragon has been a godsend for our family. Both of my boys have found a home where they are understood, intellectually challenged, and surrounded by people who support and care for them. The academic mission is unique. It is unusual to find programs for gifted children that don't resort to assigning more work, instead of making the work itself more challenging and creative. The Dragon specializes in engaging gifted minds in new ways. Although my kids are not yet at the 'next steps' stage of their education, I'm confident that kids receive the training necessary to gain admittance to their post-secondary institution of choice. Perhaps more importantly, I'm confident that they are given the opportunity to explore all of the possibilities open to them, and to discover what really excites them intellectually.
Most of the humanities and science classes -- which, fair warning, clock in at an hour-and-a-half -- begin with a short lecture, and end with a class-wide discussion. When I stumbled into one a few months ago (to debate-coach, not school prowling), I was struck by how much participation went on. As for the math classes, they were never my forte and not something I pursued, but I remember them fondly.
Academics are quite strong at Dragon. Students can really customize there education and get the best out of it. Personally I did more creative classes and humanities and felt my classes where very good. But my peers who choose to do more science and math got the same high quality academics as me in a completely different area.
The Dragon Academy worked off the standard Ontario curriculum, but they supplemented it for what the class was capable of. I believe the Dragon Academy did a great job at tailoring the education to the individual, and giving the support that each person needed. The Dragon Academy successfully taught me how to learn. When I arrived at University, I knew what it was like to disagree with others, to work with my peers to solve problems, to dive deeper p when something was difficult, and most importantly to ask for help when it is needed. While some of peers in university were clearly very intelligent, and many went to prestigious high schools, no one shared my ability to learn.
The Socratic method and field trips both created deep learning and was far more engaging and enjoyable than standard teaching. The material itself was advanced, often pulling from university textbooks, which made it both challenging and interesting. With the emphasis on participation and small class sizes everyone was able to get the help they needed. The atmosphere wasn't competitive for grades and prestige; and enthusiastic but respectful debate was encouraged. It's emphasis on understanding as opposed to mere memorization, critical thinking, and making connections prepared me for university well as university work generally rewards those skills while punishing mere regurgitation.
The work in often thought provoking and gives us a chance to enhance our critical thinking abilities.
Academics were a strength at Dragon. We were all academically minded, even those who weren't after an academic career. We couldn't compete with each other if we tried. Hard feelings just didn't last. We felt like family, and we knew we were in this together. We were ready to help each other with homework, studying, independent projects, or problems we invented just for the sake of solving them. Teachers were, once again, always there for us to lean on if we just couldn't figure something out. One of the unavoidable small-school drawbacks, however, was that we didn't always have enough students interested in a course for the school to offer it. It wasn't a big deal to me that music won't be offered this year, or I'd need a tutor to take media arts, but it might be to someone else, so be warned.
I would describe the learning environment at Dragon as being similar to that of university. Dragon describes it as the Socratic method; in practice, this means emphasis on class discussion and projects. In the arts, for example, Dragon's annual Art Cafe event serves as a portion of the grade 12 art students' mark, requiring them to create a modern art style installation within the school that interests them and demonstrates their knowledge. I found that in participating in events such as this, that I learned far more than I would have if I had just studied the theory and written tests, rather than having the experience of planning and executing it in real life. There are equivalent events for STEM courses as well.
What I am learning will definitely be useful to me later on in life. I have received the necessary foundation in all my subjects that will greatly ease my transition into university. In addition, the academics have given me the skills to think critically, tackle problems logically and think creatively, which will prove helpful in the future.