Our Approach

At The Studio School of Durham we believe that school should be a place for critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and character building. We see children as competent individuals capable of guiding their own learning. To that end, we combine several educational approaches to encourage deep and lasting learning and academic growth.

Core Skills

Our approach to learning during core skill (reading, writing, math) acquisition is highly individualized. Recognizing that all students have a jagged learning profile and thus learn different subjects in different ways at different rates we facilitate a customized and multi discipline approach to these academic pursuits. Core skills are also a natural part of our inquiry and project-based work where we encourage and guide our learners to connect ideas, reflect upon the connections, apply a variety of methods, and communicate their findings in a variety of forms.


Our project work encourages our students to become active in the learning process where their curiosity is seen as a valuable resource. Through this process students address interesting and relevant challenges, develop driving questions, set goals using a co-created rubric system, research their topic, document their process, present their findings and reflect upon their learning process. Students learning through inquiry and investigation have vast opportunities in the areas of decision-making and critical thinking – it allows them to acquire information and concepts in an authentic way. Our projects often take students off site on field trips, such as walking through the community during a study of architecture. Experts and special visitors knowledgeable on our topics of study are also frequent visitors to the Studio.

Socratic Discussions

Our day begins and ends with a Socratic Discussion. This form of discussion embodies the power of asking questions, valuing inquiry over information and discussion over debate. While we value independent learning we understand the benefit and social nature of collaborative learning. At the start of the discussion open-ended questions are shared with the group with the goal of staying focused and students exploring the perspectives and approach to the questions and not just their answers.