MIDDLE SCHOOL OVERVIEW
In Middle School the curriculum evolves to accommodate the student’s growing need for truth. At the same time, it seeks to keep alive the sense of connection between the adolescent’s soul, and what she or he creates. We strive to help students integrate independent thinking, inner resources, imagination and a sense of social responsibility as they discover their own strengths and talents.
Teachers and students engage in a lively and shared quest for knowledge, from science experiments to Shakespeare, from Pythagoras to world politics. The students’ natural curiosity is now matched with an intense hunger for relevance and meaning in what they are studying. Connecting their learning experiences in a meaningful way is crucial in keeping them engaged as an active learner, and in guiding them in their own quest for where they fit in the world. Understanding and skill development are deepened in all core curricular areas. The students are encouraged to expand their capacities for observation and to use these to draw conclusions and form judgments. It is also a time to strengthen and maintain work and study habits. Students continue to compose their own main lesson books, drawing from lectures and other resources. The books they create now express more original thought and awareness of the relationships between disciplines. Yearly themes in the humanities include the Renaissance, the Age of Revolution, and the Modern Age.
Students continue to study music, art, and two languages, and to produce a class play. Other artistic activities also help them discover the capacities of their hands, heads, and hearts. In woodworking they use hand tools to transform a raw section of a tree into a bowl, an inlaid box, or a stool. Artistic skills are refined as students paint their own version of a masterpiece from art history, an exercise requiring both knowledge of a master’s style and development of a personal vision. In music, students learn to listen to each other, cooperate and develop self-discipline by learning to play a new instrument in the school band.
Games and movement now take on the form of organized athletics. All students are encouraged to participate on inter-school sports teams. Field trips provide supervised expansion of students’ geographic horizons and teach them to meet new physical and social challenges. Service projects both within the school and in the larger community prepare young people for the world outside the classroom and sew the seeds of compassion.
A class teacher for every grade gives social continuity to each year’s experience, but class teachers in the junior high also specialize in math, science, or humanities, and teach those subjects to all three grades. Other teachers offer art, band, woodworking, movement, French and German instruction. Specialists are brought into the school to teach short-term options courses that have included fencing, cooking, acting, jazz band, pottery, handwork, photography, juggling, hap-ki-do, jazz dance, yoga and a school yearbook.
Adolescence is a complex and challenging transition. The curriculum prepares students for senior high school, while continuing to create a sense of wonder in discovery and a strong sense of self. As students learn by doing- whether that is carving wood, acting a part in a play, or observing a science experiment, the physical, spiritual, and intellectual realms become a unified whole in which the young person can feel at home.