Paideia School of Learning

What is Paideia ?

Paideia Logo

Paideia is a holistic approach to life-long learning with roots in ancient Greece. In contemporary schools across the United States and a few other countries, Paideia is a set of beliefs about education including active and rigorous teaching methods.

It is based on the belief that the human species is defined by its capacity and desire for learning. The program itself argues for a public education that is at once more rigorous and more accessible.


In 1982, Paideia’s original thinker, philosopher Mortimer Adler, joined with a diverse cadre of educators and intellectuals to write The Paideia Proposal. Its members charged themselves with the task of defining a list of “Paideia Principles” as a summary of ideas introduced by Adler in his seminal work on American education. These principles continue to shape our efforts to improve teaching and learning in schools and classrooms.

Declaration of Paideia Principles

We, the members of the Paideia Group, hold these truths to be the principles of the Paideia Program:

  • that all children can learn;

  • that, therefore, they all deserve the same quality of schooling, not just the same quantity;

  • that the quality of schooling to which they are entitled is what the wisest parents would wish for their own children, the best education for the best being the best education for all;

  • that the principal of the school should never be a mere administrator, but always a leading teacher who should be cooperatively engaged with the school’s teaching staff in planning, reforming, and reorganizing the school as an educational community

Method of Instruction

There are three types of teaching and learning in a Paideia Classroom:

1. Didactic Instruction
The Acquisition of Organized Knowledge

Didactic Instruction is the delivery of factual information. Lecture, demonstration, videos, and reading are common forms of Didactic Instruction. The goal of Didactic Instruction is for students to acquire the basic “must know information” about a subject.

2. Intellectual Coaching
The Development of Intellectual Skill

Intellectual Coaching is guidance through modeling and questioning. Intellectual Coaching may begin with a teacher modeling writing a sentence, reading a paragraph, solving a problem, or hypothesizing about a reaction. Intellectual Coaching often happens by questioning as well as providing both positive and corrective feedback. The goal of Intellectual Coaching is for students to acquire expertise in skills of learning, such as reading, writing, calculating, and observing.

3. Paideia Seminar
The Increased Understanding of Ideas and Values

The Paideia Seminar is a collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated by open-ended questions about a text. The goal of the Paideia Seminar is for students to expand their understanding of ideas, concepts, and values about the curriculum. The Paideia Seminar nurtures both intellectual and social skills.