“Students learn best when they are comfortable with intellectual uncertainty, when they are happy to struggle with and through an especially complex problem and do not consider their inability to immediately ‘get it’ as a problem.”
Dr Andrew Atherton, Head of the Elective Programme
The Elective Programme offers Lower Fifth girls the opportunity to go beyond the curriculum and explore new and exciting avenues of study with the aim of developing lateral thinking skills, scholarly independence, intellectual flexibility and the ability to discuss complex ideas.
The programme is comprised of a series of bespoke subject-specific modules, or Electives, which are organised according to three distinct pathways, each one named after Downe House Alumnae, Biochemist, Helen Muir (DH 1938, Anthropologist, Audrey Richards (DH 1917) and Historian, Margaret Aston (DH 1950). By harnessing the specialities of our teachers, girls can select a six-week bespoke Elective module from any of the three pathways – for example, one teacher might run an Elective on the beauty of Shakespeare’s sonnets, another on the complexity of ancient Greek Physics, another on the Physics of Music and another still on the consequences of Development Economics. The Elective Programme allows students the freedom and space to delight in difficulty, to find that they can persevere when met with complexity, and to celebrate the joys intellectual uncertainty can bring.
Dr Andrew Atherton, Head of the Elective Programme explains the rationale for the programme, “Whilst as a School, we are rightly very proud of the enviable public examination results that our pupils achieve, we also recognise that knowledge does not begin and end here. Coined by the University of Cambridge, the term ‘super-curriculum’ describes academic and scholarly opportunities that lie beyond the curriculum and are not directly related to examination preparation. In order to continue developing our already extensive super-curriculum, the Elective Programme cultivates a love of learning for learning’s sake and provides an extra intellectual challenge for the most able girls.”
Read more about the Elective Programme.
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