Why Choose the American Curriculum?
At GEMS American Academy Qatar, we start preparing our students to be university ready from the moment they step foot into high school. We believe deeply in challenging our students to the highest level possible and as such, we offer various pathway for students to choose from which align with their learning preferences.
From Grade 9, GAAQ’s curriculum is aligned to Common Core (ELA/Math), NGSS (Science) and C3 (History) as well as national best teaching practices within the American curriculum. The U.S. curriculum is unique from other curriculums as it allows for creativity of “how” it is taught and assessed. There is a strong foundation in the standards which outline what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade, but allows for teachers to collaborate to create units of work that are centered around students inquiring, researching and utilizing information to think cognitively (thinking, knowing, remembering, judging and problem-solving) for the solution.
Five Main Benefits of the American Curriculum
A Time for Exploration
The freedom that Americans love are also expressed in their education system. What does that mean for you? The American curriculum provides students a one-of-a-kind experience where there is the ability to choose certain subjects to study. In addition, students have the choice to take college-level classes called Advanced Placement (AP) courses or they can enroll in regular, grade-level classes with the same goal in mind – graduation with an American diploma. Students are given the opportunity to take a wide variety of subjects such as Science, Mathematics, History, English/Language Arts, Arabic, French, Spanish, Islamic Studies, ICT, Instrumental Music, Choir, Drama and Qatar History, to name a few. This exploration helps student understand the value of empowerment to select the education that they desire.
Stronger Teacher-Student Relationships
Compared to other cultures, the American-style of education embraces a more casual and friendlier relationship with parents and students while still gaining respect for a challenging teaching approach. As a result, parents and students have historically remarked about the positive, engaging learning environments that promote open discussions, sharing of opinions and the independence to inquiry and explore. Lastly, teachers also serve as mentors to help guide the development of students.
Creativity is Prioritized
Arguably, America is known as the most innovative country in the world as it pertains to advancement in technology and setting the standard in entertainment. So, it is natural to think that the American curriculum is structured to encourage creativity, innovation, liberal thinking and brainstorming out-of-the-box concepts to solve problems. This is achieved through open and transparent communication, participation, peer-to-peer work, collaboration and discussion with groups or individuals.
Holistic Development for the Whole Child
American education emphasizes exposure to a diversity of academic subjects and extracurricular activities such as sports and performing arts. Additionally, the curriculum encourages students to actively participate in the community through volunteering and internship opportunities.
In summary, this educational approach is well-known for its focus on developing the whole person – physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and mentally – as a means to bolster and support the natural patterns of growth and development within a child. They become more motivated to attend school and learn as the curriculum encourages curiosity and creativity. Most important, holistic development is attuned to each child’s persona and learning style because American education appreciates student individuality without stifling growth.
A More Comfortable Pace of Education
American education holds tests to evaluate student comprehension and progress as well as quizzes, mid-terms and final exams. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is the American assessment that was designed to evaluate a student’s college-specific skills; this test measures how well test-takers can analyze and solve problems which are skills that are typically learned while in school and will be needed in college/university.
The big difference with the American curriculum, in comparison with the British education system and CBSE (India), is that students in an American school do not experience the immense pressure of a comprehensive singular final exam. Instead, students are continuously evaluated through a mixture of assignments, presentations, group projects, class attendance, quizzes and tests. Therefore, students have less stress around the academics and have a large opportunity to pace themselves comfortably in order to progress more dynamically throughout the semester.
What does Advanced Placement (AP) mean?
Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada that was created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and college/university course credit to students who obtain high scores on their examinations. For a high school course to have this designation, the course must be audited by the College Board to ascertain that it satisfies the AP curriculum. If the course is approved, the school may use the AP designation and the course will be publicly listed on the AP Course Ledger.
At GAAQ, our AP program gives students the opportunity to complete college-level coursework while in high school. As of the 2020 – 2021 school year, we offer 14 AP courses that include:
- AP English Language and Composition
- AP Calculus AB
- AP Chemistry
- AP Environmental Science
- AP European History
- AP Human Geography
- AP Comparative Government
- AP Spanish Language and Culture
- AP Spanish Literature and Culture
- AP Computer Science Principles
- AP 2D Art and Design
- AP 3D Art and Design
- AP Drawing
- AP Seminar