Making connections

Triangle Learning Community combines online resources and student passion
Jan. 12, 2013 @ 08:53 PM

Steve Goldberg doesn’t want to call it a school.

“A school, I think, is a place where we used to go when information was scarce and you couldn’t get it any place else,” he said.

So, instead, Goldberg is founding what he calls the Triangle Learning Community.

“Information isn’t the problem,” he said. “It’s all over the place. But we have much better technology for harnessing that information than we did 10 or even five years ago.”

A former Cary Academy history teacher, Goldberg plans to open the private program for middle school students on Aug. 28 – the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He has acquired space for the fledgling education program next to the Beth El Synagogue on Watts Street near Duke University’s east campus.

He said he got the idea for the school during the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” while he was teaching Roman history in Cary. “Shouldn’t we somehow tie that together?” he thought. So he invited students who wanted to discuss the news coming from the Middle East and put it in perspective for special early morning sessions.

“Nineteen kids showed up at 7 a.m. on the Friday before Mubarak fell,” Goldberg said. “And I thought these are the kids I want to work with, kids who are motivated to learn about the world. I think there are enough of these folks in the Triangle to make a go of this.”

Students in TLC are expected to work with Internet access, using tools such as Google Earth, to dig down into current events and find connections. They’ll tackle projects, blog about their activities and even organize conferences about topics that drive their passions.

“We’ll be writing all the time,” Goldberg said. “After each project, we’ll stop and reflect about what we learned. We’ll also touch on math and science. All those things that we do traditionally, we’re going to get at, just not in a traditional way. We’re going at it so that it sticks.”

The school day at TLC will start with a 15-minute welcome meeting, two hours of discussion about news of the day, a 10-minute snack break, an hour of math and science, 45 minutes of sports and physical activities, an hour for lunch, two hours of interdisciplinary project work, and about 15 to 25 minutes of reflecting on the day’s lessons.

Currently, Goldberg’s in the midst of recruiting families to join the school. He’s hoping to have as many as 20 this fall, “but I’m not sure that’ll happen in year one.”

“As long as it’s more than six or seven, we can do it,” he said. “As we get up to 12 or 13 students, I can hire a second teacher.”

TLC is a private program, with tuition of about $13,000. However, Goldberg said he is committed to socioeconomic diversity and should have some scholarship options available.


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