From the Director – Week 1

At our ATDP Family Orientation a couple of weeks ago, I spoke about what it means to join the academic conversation as part of a learning community. Let’s make that our theme for the summer. We hope that your participation in the academic conversation will assist and support you as you grow into the person you hope to be.

In my talk, I quoted UCLA professor Mike Rose to give a preview of what to expect, what to help create, in your ATDP classroom, with your teacher and your fellow students. Rose said of his own teachers and classrooms:

“My teachers modeled critical inquiry and linguistic precision and grace, and they provided various cognitive maps for philosophy and history and literature. They encouraged me to make connections and to enter into conversations –present and past– to see what talking a particular kind of talk would enable me to do … And it was alive. It transpired in backyards and on doorsteps and inside offices as well as in the classroom… They liked books and ideas, and they liked to talk about them in ways that fostered growth rather than established dominance. They lived their knowledge. And maybe because of that, their knowledge grew in me in ways that led back out to the world. I was developing a set of tools with which to shape a life.” (Rose, 1989, p. 58)


As you may already know, and as you gather from my selection of Mike Rose’s quotation, learning at ATDP is a very social matter. It has to be in order for you to gain the greatest benefit from your participation. Frankly, in order to work so very, VERY hard, we all need to support each other, not to compete with each other. Returning students need to renew friendships begun in prior years. All students need to make many new friends. Such friendships create important intellectual connections. You must develop a community of your own in which you can share knowledge, compare ideas, and challenge yourself to think critically.

At the Orientation on June 5, Anina Oliver, Julie Ramseier, Michelle Ramseier, and Azfar Haq welcomed new and returning families to the community with fond memories, stories of discovery, and well-earned advice. I invite you now to review some of the highlights at the center of this newsletter. From your fellow ATDP students’ recommendations, you can anticipate how much you can accomplish during these six weeks. You can also anticipate that the activity in your classroom may not approach the speed of light, but it certainly exceeds the speed of sound! You are likely to need to acquire a set of tools and skills that permit you to accomplish all that you need to do, at a high level of performance.


Many ATDP students are accustomed to absorbing information so quickly and with such ease that they are truly startled when they come upon huge sets of information that do not lend themselves to quick absorption. This presents an unaccustomed challenge to many ATDP students. Happily, our students love to learn. And with equal happiness, we present an effective, exciting (you knew that if we’re espousing it, it would have to involve a large element of fun!) set of tools for academic success that is aimed at managing and mastering huge bodies of knowledge and mastering important skills. We are talking about ACTIVE LEARNING. It is active learning that makes it possible for students to take in all that ATDP has to offer.

Have a wonderful first week of ATDP S’11. If you can, make time to drop by the ATDP office to meet the whole staff and to let us know how you are doing. Of course, if you know a good joke, we’d love to hear that, too.