Buckley 4-Fold Plan Blends Elements of Tradition with More Progressive Approaches


Globalism, critical thinking, technology and creativity are central to the curriculum at The Buckley School, a K-12 independent school in Sherman Oaks. Interestingly, these concepts have their roots in an educational philosophy developed nearly 80 years ago. That’s when the school was founded by Dr. Isabelle Buckley, who wanted a different type of education for her own children. Her new approach, the Buckley 4-Fold Plan of Education, emphasized educating the whole child and blended elements of both traditional and progressive teaching styles. It stood the test of time and remains at the heart of Buckley today.

“While clearly our curriculum has evolved and teaching approaches have changed, everything we do remains driven by our core educational philosophy,” said Dr. Larry Dougherty, Buckley head of school. “I constantly read new academic research that supports Dr. Buckley’s thinking in terms of multiple intelligences, resilience, character development, the impact of physical health on academics; the list is long and interesting.”

The 4-Fold Plan is a deeply interconnected program of academics, arts, physical development and moral education within a more traditional educational framework than is typically associated with whole-child approaches.

“Curiosity, critical thinking and creativity are the underpinning of our entire curriculum,” Dougherty said. “And yet, we believe that students’ best and most creative work — in the classroom, in the arts, and on the field — can only be realized through self-discipline developed in a structured program, which emphasizes character development.”

Each school year is kicked off with character development programs. All divisions hold assemblies to talk about The Buckley Commitment, a set of core values (respect, kindness, honesty, loyalty, self-reliance and self-discipline) students, and all members of the school community, continually strive to develop.

“It starts with the Commitment, which some time ago students chose to adopt as an alternative to honor code because they thought it was better to strive for p

positive value traits than to simply avoid negative traits or behaviors,” Dougherty said. “But we believe academic success is meaningless without integrity, and because of that, human values are addressed throughout all areas of our curriculum.”

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