Why The Mastery School?

It's a fair question. We have an answer.

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Living in a Changed World

Look closely, and you’ll see that today’s schools were built for yesterday’s world. Most schools use an Industrial Age model mismatched for the Information Age’s demands.

The world you’ll inhabit later will be categorically different from the one your parents and teachers have experienced. Mastery learning recognizes this fact and organizes school around your future, not our past.

We get you ready for the years ahead by engaging you in things that matter in the present. We use a very deliberate methodology that leads you to discover the world and the ways you’ll make an impact on it.

Critical thinking and creative problem-solving, collaboration, communication, citizenship—these are the skills and habits that will make a difference today and tomorrow.

We’ve designed a school that will deepen and stretch you so that you’re ready not only to navigate uncharted spaces, but to lead, serve, and thrive in them.

We invited Mastery School families, students, and faculty to share their thoughts about the school. Their responses made the case better than anything we could write on a website. Take a look and see for yourself.

The Mastery Difference

The Hawken team has been hard at work for years, refining an educational model that ensures mastery. These are the bedrock principles behind our approach:

  1. Real-World Problem Solving

    We learn by doing. That means you’ll master skills and content by solving real problems for real people. Imagine learning physics with a NASA scientist while working to send the first astronaut to Mars.

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  2. A Mentorship Model

    Mentors at the Mastery School serve as true guides. They’re deeply invested in both your present and your future. They help you process all you’re learning as you’re learning it. In this way, they’ll help you distill your new-found knowledge into wisdom so you can find common ground between your strengths, your passions, and the needs of the community. We call this important work wayfinding. You’ll have ample time to do that here.

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  3. Mastery-Based Feedback

    The typical grading system distracts from the most important work of school, which is learning. So instead of receiving grades, you’ll earn Mastery Credits by presenting evidence that demonstrates your knowledge, skills, abilities, and accomplishments. At the end of your tenure at the Mastery School, these credits will serve to demonstrate the breadth of your experience and knowledge in ways that no simple grade could.

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A More Effective Approach

School should help you stretch your thinking, not leave you bored or needlessly stressed or, worse, uninspired. Timed exams, multiple choice tests, grades and bell curves are reductive and tired measurements that don’t reflect your true abilities or your accomplishments.

We do high school differently. By emphasizing doing over memorizing, Mastery Learning frees you up to learn naturally, through experiences, within a system that gives you the time to try, the room to fail, and the support you need to persist to mastery.

Here, you’ll acquire knowledge because you need to use it, and as you do, you’ll develop critical skills that you’ll keep using down the road. We embrace the methodologies of Korda Institute for Teaching, which are rooted in the neuroscience of how humans learn.

So you’ll be going to a school that provides you a healthier and more useful education.

Why Now?

The moment is now to commit ourselves to building the fair and equitable world that we all want to live in, and schools are central to this work.

Schools are laboratories of citizenship and expressions of values, and as a school with access and opportunity, The Mastery School of Hawken is committed to using our position to help increase access and opportunity for others.

It couldn’t be clearer that your generation will change the world, and you will be leaders in that change. Your high school years should help you find your voice and sharpen your vision.

That’s why we’re designing a school community where every student feels honored, known, and valued.

Where each becomes skilled at collaborating on diverse teams.

Where each becomes masterful at systems thinking, global citizenship, non-violent communication, and humility.

Where each grows skilled at using the tools that tomorrow’s leaders need: research, public speaking, listening for understanding among others.

These are the tools that position young people to lead in our changing world.

That’s why we’re building the Mastery School of Hawken at this pressing moment.

Why Hawken?

Hawken is an engine of innovation. We’ve been hard at work for more than a decade redesigning high school to empower students like you with the actual know-how to navigate a future certain in complexity and possibility.

We believe in the importance of growing over grading, in doing over memorizing, and in mentoring over going-it-alone. You’ll gain knowledge in order to use it in life, not for a test.


The 2022-23 application is open!

Visit How to Apply to get started.