The Carden Method is an educational program developed by Mae Carden and practiced in approximately 80 K-8 schools across the United States. Carden schools are largely nonsectarian and always independent.
Mae Carden developed the Carden Method in response to what she perceived as a decline in understanding in progressive education. The first Carden school was established in 1934 in New York City. Mae Carden also established the Carden Educational Foundation, which maintains the collection of teaching materials used in Carden schools.
The Carden curriculum is broad, including traditional subjects such as mathematics, language arts, science, history, and geography, as well as cultural programs in art, music, and French as well as Spanish depending on the school. Each grade level builds on the knowledge and skills gained by the student from the previous year.
Language arts are taught using Sentence Analysis. This also teaches proper sentence structure by reinforcing the fact that all sentences need a subject, called the "Who," and a verb.
Mathematics is taught uniquely as the language of numbers. New concepts are continually introduced, but no concept is ever taught and dropped. Daily problems and tests both cover concepts learned recently and review all the material covered up to that point.
In addition to world history, geography is given great importance in order to provide students with a cultural and locational awareness of their world.
Instruction in French and or Spanish begins as early as kindergarten and continues through middle school. Occasionally, students also study Latin beginning in the sixth grade or the beginning of seventh grade. The Latin complements the student's work in French and facilitates the future comprehension of other Romance languages. Study of the Latin language is supplemented by exposure to the Classical world of the Romans and Greeks.
Students learn spelling through the Carden "controls", a set of rules for deconstructing a word into its basic phonic parts. The controls are essentially a distillation of classic dictionary marks, but are "presented in such a way that the students are able to remember how and why a word is spelled" and to also explain the reasons why letters are pronounced differently. In addition, the controls are accompanied by a vowel chart, which groups sounds into natural phonic clusters. Spelling instincts are reinforced through daily dictation lessons, which include both familiar and unfamiliar words.
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