Lisa VanDamme

Lisa VanDamme obtained her BA in philosophy from the University of Texas (Austin) in 1995. While pursuing graduate studies in education at Pennsylvania State University, she was invited to California to develop a curriculum for a gifted child who was not being challenged in traditional schools. She found that her program worked equally well for students of all levels of ability, and has had success educating students from 4th-8th grade for the past six years. VanDamme Academy is the product of her six years of devotion to developing and teaching this inspiring and systematic curriculum.

Pattern Recognition vs. Real Understanding

Every year, when I give my first test in a grammar or literature class, some new student asks me whether the test will be multiple choice. Every year, I look him in the eye and say "I can assure you that you will never, in any class, under any circumstances, at any...

The Homework Lie

Every year, dozens of parents sit at my desk and describe to me the intense frustration they feel as they watch their children get churned through the public schools. One of the refrains of their complaints: endless homework. And no wonder: The work itself is largely...

How To Teach Your Child: How To Teach Science (Part 4 of 4)

The science curriculum for the elementary students at VanDamme Academy is taught primarily through experiments. These students are learning principles that are very close to the perceptual level, so we always demonstrate the principle in carefully designed hands-on...

P is for Pajama Party or Paragraph?

Recently, I was visited by a mother frustrated with her son's education and looking for something more.She informed me that mid-way through his kindergarten year, they were still learning their letters--most recently, they had been studying the letter "P." And in...

How To Teach Your Child: Motivating Students To Learn (Part 3 of 4)

Another consequence of the rampant violation of hierarchy in science education, available to both teachers and students alike, is that students find learning about science boring.When I ask people about their experience studying science in school, particularly...

The Joys of Reading: A Proper Reading Program

This year, I have the pleasure of teaching literature to our school's Elementary 1 students, children in second and third grades, a class that includes my own seven-year-old daughter Lana. Their uninhibited enthusiasm for learning, their eager quest to see...

How To Teach Your Child: What It Means To Learn (Part 2 of 4)

Several years ago, a teacher from my school was tutoring Kevin, then a freshman in high school. One day, Kevin came to their session asking for help in preparing for a test on protein synthesis. The tutor went over the information Kevin had been presented, helping him...

The Power of Observation: From Art to Literature to Life

One of the great joys of the present school year has been the addition of an art appreciation class, taught by art enthusiast and VanDamme Academy teacher Luc Travers. Mr. Travers' unique approach to analyzing a work of art has transformed my esthetic life, enhancing...

Microsoft and Science Education

Science education is a frequent topic in the news these days. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced a campaign to improve math and science education in the Seattle area. According to Brad Smith, a senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft: "We're very...

How To Teach Your Child: A Necessary Order To Knowledge (Part 1 of 4)

Imagine what would happen if a first-grade teacher, instead of teaching her students addition and subtraction, attempted first to teach them algebra--or, even worse, in the name of intellectual rigor and in an effort to offer a program of exceptional quality--decided...

 

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