The object of education is ... becoming a human being. Education should not focus on special functions, faculties, or skills, but on the whole personality." — Maria Montessori
The Middle School design is an integration of the current research in human development, the trends and issues in education, and the Montessori philosophy. The mission of the program is to provide opportunities for adolescents to be self-confident and gain self-knowledge, to belong to a community, to learn to be adaptable, to be academically competent and challenged, and to create a vision for their personal future. In short, to empower early adolescents.
Middle School is structured to support students in their process of self-construction. As adolescents move toward adulthood, they work to identify their roles in society. Our program helps students gain a better understanding of themselves and their communities. We aim to enhance students’ sense of productivity and effectiveness, and ultimately, their readiness to make a positive difference in the world.
In an academic year, there are five cycles of work followed by an immersion week for retreat, internships, externships, leadership development, or service learning. Each is five weeks in length and the topics and concepts covered in each cycle are grouped under themes. In the fifth week, there is assessment. Students also take the time to write an extensive self-assessment. The cycle format is designed to help students learn organizational, decision-making, and time-management skills.
The school day is divided into two kinds of work: individual work and group work. Individual work is designed to make a match between the skills, abilities, and interests of each student, and there are work choices in every academic area to be completed alone or in small, self-chosen groups. Individual work is assessed with written or oral mastery tests.
Group work is done in teams, which remain in place for that work cycle and are reconfigured each time. These groups work together on academic tasks in the thematic units, which integrate all subject areas. Assessment includes individual written tests, group presentations, and self-assessments of the group process.
Mastery learning is a form of personalized learning that gives students the necessary time to master particular skills before progressing to the next level of work. The student takes on the responsibility of learning new information versus merely accepting a low grade and moving on to the next subject. The teacher’s task is to break down the learning steps, offering suggestions for internalizing the knowledge, and providing the time necessary to learn the information. According to research, the advantage of mastery learning is that it offers clear expectations, fosters mastery of a unit of study, is not competitive, and encourages student responsibility.