Triangle Learning Community

Respect middle school students.
They are eminently capable.

We are running affordable summer camp sessions from 8:45-noon during the week of July 8-12 in Durham, NC.  Click here for details.

Student applications for 2013-14 are now available;
Please click this link for the 2013-14 TLC Application.

TLC in the Durham Press

Read this 
article about TLC in the Duke student newspaper.
Read another article about TLC from the Durham Herald-Sun.

For more information about TLC, please contact Steve Goldberg — Steve [at] (note that it’s not Trianglelearning — there’s a shared “le”)

Please click here for a 2-page Executive Summary describing TLC.

Please see Steve’s blog, What I Learned Today, for examples of the sort of active learning that will take place at TLC.

The mission of TLC is to mentor a socio-economically and culturally diverse group of students to become empathetic global citizens who make the world a better place.

TLC final logo

TLC will treat students with respect and will leverage 21st century tools to explore what is possible in education. 

This website is still in beta version — please click here for a 2-page Executive Summary.

Please click here for testimonials about Steve Goldberg and the TLC approach.

Read an endorsement of TLC from author/speaker/international education reformer Will Richardson.  Will, in describing TLC, says:

This is what I want for my kids. I know that their schools can’t necessarily replicate the structure of what Steve is doing, but I would hope they could see the merit in the approach and find ways to make inquiry happen in their classrooms at a much deeper level. Yes, they need some knowledge and some context to make sense of the world, all that stuff that’s going to be on the test. But they also need to know how to take that knowledge out into the world and deepen their understanding of it, put it to good use to solve meaningful problems.

Read testimonials and see video of what students say about TLC’s founder, Steve Goldberg. One of Steve’s former students, now junior class president and captain of the basketball team at Cary Academy says:

The lessons that Mr. Goldberg teaches you go well beyond the scope of the classroom… [Students who attend TLC middle school] will be under the care and guidance of one of the most intelligent, inspirational, and caring men that I have ever been around in my life.

To read more details about the school, here’s a 25-page description of TLC middle school.

Why choose TLC for Middle School?

Middle school students (grade 6-8) are capable of far more than we typically ask of them. And today is perhaps the most exciting time to be a learner, with the world’s information available online. Why, then, are so many students bored with school and not engaged in the work they are being asked to do?

We need to treat young people with respect, challenge them, hold them to high standards, and mentor them as they work to make the world a better place. By giving students responsibility to do real work that matters, they will learn the skills and habits of mind they need for today’s world, such as empathy, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication through various media.

Our current system over-emphasizes standardized testing, resulting in over-standardized instruction and less-than-engaged students. TLC is about personalized instruction, high standards, and letting students pursue their passion as they explore the Triangle and expand their global horizons through the thoughtful use of technology.

The technological revolution of the past decade has made it possible for students to engage with the world and learn anything — from anyone — at any time. TLC students will regularly utilize such online sources as TED Talks to spark discussions in class, Khan Academy for individualized math instruction (supplemented by an hour “Problem Solving and Strategic Thinking” exploration every day), and Rosetta Stone for language instruction.

Time when we meet together will be focused on the things that learning facilitators (we don’t call them “teachers”) do well – facilitating conversation, engaging in respectful dialogue, developing moral reasoning, probing and stretching students’ logic, and posing open-ended questions.

Time spent together — particularly at the start of sixth grade — will be used to build a thoughtful community out of a diverse group of students and families. Learning to work with people who are different from ourselves is a challenging task that will pay off great rewards, particularly because TLC students and learning facilitators will work together for three years. Getting a solid foundation is crucial.

It’s not time to reform existing schools (created in an industrial age where it sort of made sense to go from French to Biology to English every 50 minutes) — it’s time to re-think what’s possible for 21st century learners.

TLC students will pursue real-world project-based learning. Unlike most middle schools, where students move from teacher to teacher and switch subjects every 45 minutes, we will build a strong sense of community with a team of two learning facilitators working in concert to create the best possible learning environment for the twenty students who will be a tight-knit learning community for three years. Students at TLC will spend their days together in thoughtful blocks of time.

Learning facilitators will provide individual attention as students discover and pursue their passions rather than a set curriculum. This does not mean students will sacrifice rigor in their academic development – they will work hard and dig deeply into subjects about which they are passionate.

Students will leave TLC as empathetic, self-directed, thoughtful, ethical, creative, engaged, curious and confident global citizens. They will have a rock-solid foundation that will enable them to excel in high school and beyond.

Over the first two years in the program, students will gain confidence as active learners who take daily initiative to discover more about their world. Beyond this healthy curiosity, students will be encouraged and expected to engage with challenging texts and do productive work at home. They will be expected to complete quality inter-disciplinary projects that responsibly and thoughtfully contribute to society. Sixth graders will complete approximately 8 short projects (most lasting 3-4 weeks, some lasting longer) over the course of the first year. Seventh graders will complete projects that are increasingly more involved, more student-directed, and that take more time to complete. Seventh graders might complete three or four major projects, each lasting two to three months.

Eighth graders will propose and complete a six-month capstone project that makes a significant contribution to the world. Graduates will leave confident that they can make a meaningful difference because they will just have done exactly that.

Sample capstone projects that an eighth grade student might choose:

#1) Learn about the needs of a village in rural Pakistan and determine that women need to be able to start businesses.  Then, arrange 50 micro-loans for 50 women in that village, so that they can start actual small businesses.

Imagine doing that as an eighth grader — changing the life of a village by creating women leaders.  Think about the economics and math and politics and English and history and cultural skills a student would develop as she publicized the situation in that village in Pakistan and worked to convince people to make a loan to those women. Think about the life-long connections that could result from such a capstone project.

#2) Learn about honey bees and design a website that informs the world about how they can help address the plight of the honey bee.  Arrange for three nationally-renowned speakers to physically come to a student-led conference where honey bee awareness is raised. Have several other experts Skype in from other parts of the world. Videotape the conference and host the results on a web page.

Imagine doing that as an eighth grader – raising awareness of a critical problem you care about and improving the situation by spreading information about the issue.  Think about the biology and communication skills and organization and teamwork and planning and web design skills a student would need to develop as he put together, promoted, and archived a real conference.

Students who complete the three-year program at TLC will enter ninth grade ready to excel. Though they will take a non-traditional (but more meaningful) route to get there, graduates will be strong in English, math, science, history and conversant in at least one world language other than English.

Most importantly, they will be self-directed learners who engage with the world on a regular basis and want to learn as much as possible.

Once the culture is established, work at TLC will happen with equal intensity whether teachers are present or not. The idea is for students to develop their intrinsic desire to investigate topics they care passionately about.

Every day, students and teachers at TLC will learn from each other and from a world-wide learning network that they will develop and cultivate for three years (and beyond). Students will gain confidence as active learners who take daily initiative to discover more about their world.

For more information about TLC, please contact Steve Goldberg — Steve [at] (note that it’s not Trianglelearning)

Please see Steve’s blog, What I Learned Today, for examples of the sort of active learning that will take place at Triangle Learning Community (TLC).

If you have read this far and want to keep informed about TLC, please click here to join the TLC mailing list — it’s a short Google Form to fill out.  It won’t take more than a few minutes, unless you type really slowly 🙂

For the 2013-14 school year, TLC will be located at 1014 Watts Street in Durham in a building called the Freedman Center. The Freedman Center is located across the parking lot from the Beth El Synagogue at 1004 Watts Street in Durham, NC.  TLC is a secular school and is not affiliated with Beth El Synagogue.

Here’s a map showing where TLC is located:

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