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Why Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith Were Once Scrutinized For “Bad Schooling”

Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, a dynamic Hollywood power couple, took many by surprise in 2008 with an endeavor that veered away from their usual spotlight: The establishment of the New Village Leadership Academy (NVLA.) With a promise to disrupt the education landscape, the school became the epicenter of discussion and debate until its closure in 2013.

Let’s delve into this captivating chapter of the Smiths’ journey.

Will Smith / IG / The couple started a ‘free’ schooling system named New Village Leadership Academy back in 2008.

A New Take on Learning

For most, the Smiths epitomize Hollywood success. So, their decision to charter a school was unexpected, to say the least. The aim? Not just to provide another elite educational space. But to fundamentally challenge and change how learning happens.

The NVLA was ‘Reportedly’ Teaching Scientology

NVLA’s curriculum quickly became a point of contention, primarily due to its apparent ties to Scientology teachings. While Will and Jada have always distanced themselves from being labeled as Scientologists, the school’s alignment with L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology was hard to ignore.

Jada / IG / Soon after its opening, the NVLA was criticized for bad curriculum and bad schooling.

This connection, whether intentional or coincidental, thrust NVLA into a flurry of debates. The burning question: Was this Hollywood’s attempt to propagate Scientology under the guise of education, or was it a genuine effort to harness some innovative teaching techniques?

A Fresh Spin on Education: Embracing Experiential and ‘Controversial’ Learning

Beyond the shadows of Scientology, NVLA presented an avant-garde educational philosophy. Eschewing traditional teaching norms, the school thrusts students into a world of experiential learning. The classroom was not just a space of instruction but an arena for real-world exploration. Yet, this break from tradition was not universally celebrated.

So, critics emerged, probing if NVLA’s avant-garde methods risked leaving students without the solid foundational knowledge essential for future academic pursuits.

Deciphering the “Misunderstood Word” Puzzle

Amid its many unconventional teaching tools, NVLA’s emphasis on the “misunderstood word” strategy stood out. Rooted in Hubbard’s doctrines, this method proposed that a student’s understanding could be derailed by a single misconstrued word.

It is an intriguing angle to pedagogy, focusing on thorough comprehension. But its intense focus led to debates. Was NVLA oversimplifying learning barriers, or were they onto a unique key to unlocking deeper comprehension?

Jada / IG / Falling prey to wide criticisms, Will and Jada Smith were compelled to shut the doors of NVLA in 2013 – after five years of opening.

The NVLA’s ‘Controversial’ Take on Subject Transition

A distinctive feature of NVLA was its fluid approach to subject mastery. Instead of rigorous mastery before progression, the school encouraged a more explorative journey. This approach sought to fan the flames of curiosity rather than the age-old ‘parrot-style’ learning.

However, the methodology had its detractors. Some education experts pondered whether this method left students ill-prepared for deeper, more structured academic challenges down the line.

The NVLA’s Final Chapter

In 2013, despite its innovations and the star-studded backing, NVLA shut its doors. However, its journey was not just about navigating controversies but also about the delicate act of balancing innovation with widely accepted educational norms.

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