How Our Model of Education Empowers Girls
Although Khan Lab School is coeducational, we receive many questions specific to female applicants throughout our admissions process. In an effort to address these questions in a meaningful way, we have created the following resources for families of girls. Our school is located in Mountain View, California and currently serves students ages 5 to 15+.
We Prioritize Social & Emotional Learning
When choosing a school, it may be tempting to focus only on curriculum and facilities. These are crucial components of a program, but students also crave important intangibles like friendship, support, and a sense of belonging. At Khan Lab School, we know that placing students at the center means helping them to place one another at the center, too.
Although we believe social and emotional learning is crucial for all genders, studies have shown that girls between the ages of 10 and 14 are at triple the risk for self-harm compared to 15 years ago and that the “storm-and-stress” period of adolescence may be happening earlier and earlier for girls (NPR, 2016). By focusing on student agency, we empower students to advocate for others as well as for themselves.
In our most recent anonymous student survey, one student wrote the following:
“I love this school because I used to be someone who was always shy and in the shadows but now I am out showing people who I am and being able to stand up against people that try to harm not only me but my friends too. Before this school against the bullies I would fall, but now I rise and I stand my ground on all my opinions and know how to defend myself. This school is amazing and I hope can eventually find the right method of teaching students not only how to learn but how to love what they learn and apply their learning outside of the school as well as in, just like you have taught me.”
In recent years, research has shown that students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions helpful than teacher interactions. Since students who experience bullying are at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and difficulties at school, we believe it’s in the best interest of our learners to teach character strengths as well as content (CDC, 2015).
Our intention through our social-emotional learning curriculum is to provide students with tools to solve problems, recognize appropriate and inappropriate choices, develop strategies for making good choices, and develop self-discipline. We prioritize the development of these seven qualities:
- Socially Intelligent
We Make STEM Relevant
Studies show that American girls and boys perform equally well in math and science on standardized tests. They enroll in advanced science courses at comparable rates in high school, with girls taking the lead (22% of girls versus 18% of boys).
However, gender disparities emerge once students enter college, especially for young women of color. Although women earned 57% of all bachelor’s degrees nationally in 2013, they earned only 43% of math degrees, 39% of physical sciences, 19% of engineering, and 18% of computer science. Of these, only 11% of all undergraduate science and engineering degrees were awarded to minority women (NSF, 2015).
After graduating from college, women’s underrepresentation in STEM only worsens, with the greatest disparities occurring in computer science, engineering, and the physical sciences. Women make up half of the U.S. college-educated workforce but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. Notably, only 11% of physicists, astronomers, and electrical engineers – and only 8% of all mechanical engineers – are women (NSF, 2016).
At Khan Lab School, we know a girl’s path to science, technology, engineering, and math begins long before she takes her first undergraduate course. It might begin the first time someone celebrates her perseverance in math rather than her perfection in it, or when she is given the opportunity to see engineering as a creative endeavor. For many students, a passion for STEM takes off when someone demonstrates its value to society and shows how it can facilitate connections between people. We aren’t teaching content for the sake of memorizing and reciting it – we’re teaching content so that it can be applied in her life’s context as a surgeon, physicist, entrepreneur, or wherever her love of learning leads her.
As the global economy shifts, we know STEM fields offer growing opportunities for all students. That’s why computer science is one of our foundational fluencies. In Lower School, KLS students work toward personalized goals based on Tynker and Khan Academy. They learn programming basics, build robots, mod Minecraft, and eventually progress to creating interactive webpages using jQuery. Game-based, self-paced tools foster a passion for problem-solving in our students and build creative confidence. In Middle and Upper School, students develop solutions using their knowledge of programming. They set goals for personalized projects and use computing to strengthen their skills in inquiry, analysis, synthesis, diagnosis, innovation, reasoning, and managing complexity.
We work hard to make math and science relevant to our students. To learn more about STEM at Khan Lab School, check out this story:
"I am the founder of Robonauts, and our aim is to teach students robotics and programming for free."
–Sophia, Middle School Students Hack Against High Schoolers
We Cultivate a Community of Strong Girls
As team members at Khan Lab School, we are often taken aback by what students accomplish on their own. Because we encourage students to take risks and to cultivate a love of learning, we find that they take action on their passions. Our girls have started human rights and Harry Potter clubs at school, organized an all-school Talent Show, participated in hackathons, and starred in community theater productions. One of our 9-year-old students won a playwriting competition, two of our girls founded an art class for younger students, and several more students are teaching a robotics course at the Mountain View Public Library.
Perhaps most importantly, we encourage all of our students to celebrate one another and to work in collaboration rather than competition. Our team strives to demonstrate through our actions that we challenge and inspire one another, lifting up each other’s strengths and taking ownership of our roles. We value our differences, and because of this, we are a school where students thrive.
If you believe your daughter may be a good fit for our school, please reach out to us here or by using the form on this page. You will receive an email from our Admissions Director with more information about our application process.