A Punahou education recognizes the individuality of each child within a school culture that celebrates diversity and inspires excellence. Punahou teachers create classroom learning environments which support self-discovery and the development of the character traits and habits of mind which will prepare students to make a difference in the world.
The student experience evolves on the path from Kindergarten to grade 12 in developmentally appropriate ways. Teachers and staff collaborate to attend to children’s needs, creating intimate learning environments that help make a large school feel smaller. Throughout the school, students benefit from exceptionally diverse opportunities to learn and explore.
A Punahou education is designed to build on students’ natural curiosity, wonder and imagination to cultivate their inquiry and problem-solving skills. Faculty create conditions and opportunities that will inspire and develop a true passion for learning within Punahou students for a lifetime.
The curriculum includes initiatives geared to putting students in charge of their own learning. A student-centered classroom with student-driven inquiry enhances students’ ability to understand how they learn, increases their ability to diagnose challenges, and pursue strengths and talents. Students become passionate about their own learning. With this intrinsic motivation and the guiding counsel of caring adults, learning becomes more meaningful, retention is enhanced and students are better prepared to capitalize on their learning into the future.
One aspect of personalized learning is Competency-based learning, an academic framework that emphasizes the value of student-centered personalization, with classroom and assessment practices that work to support the unique learning path of every individual student.
The educational program sets standards that are rigorous and challenging, as well as developmentally appropriate. Punahou’s faculty are highly effective educators who care deeply about students. They are also highly qualified with varied and extensive backgrounds. The diversity of curricular choice increases as students move through grade levels, with multiple paths in core subjects designed to stimulate understanding and learning at a pace appropriate for individual students.
Opportunities to integrate learning across disciplines are valued at Punahou because learning becomes more relevant and relates more to real-life experiences. This increases engagement and requires deeper thinking using multiple systems of thought. Throughout the K – 8 experience, the single classroom and team structures allow for more collaboration on cross-disciplinary projects, while the Academy, while organized by departments, continues to add more combined courses for students and, through class projects, offers students multiple approaches to creating understanding.
In inquiry-based learning environments, students are engaged in activities that help them actively pose questions, investigate, solve problems, and draw conclusions about the world around them. They do meaningful work that addresses authentic problems, answer essential questions, and develop important 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Learners share ownership of the inquiry process. Questioning, exploring, and creating personal understanding, knowledge and growth is at the core of inquiry and drives the teaching and learning process.
The role of teachers is to design curricular experiences that achieve these goals while providing a structure that supports the development of the intellectual and practical skills necessary for individual student progress and success.
Punahou has a very distinct and unique schedule, which has been in place since the spring of 1970. It is referred to as a modular schedule, which runs on a six-day cycle from A – F. Each cycle day rotates so that it lands on a different day of the week.
In the Junior School, curricular sections and special classes (music, art, chapel, etc.) typically follow a pattern based on these cycle days.
For Academy students, this customized schedule offers the opportunity to develop personal responsibility, make use of processing time between classes and activities, and pursue interests and talents by individualizing their coursework from a selection of core academic classes and a variety of diverse electives.