Casa di Mir’s Middle School program embraces the belief that early adolescence is a momentous point in each student’s development that should be celebrated. Traits young adolescents are developing–such as independence, idealism, community-mindedness, experimentation, and enthusiasm–are honored and cultivated at Casa di Mir through a curriculum that supports and enhances this important time in each student’s life.
Academic topics in Middle School are taught in an integrated context and applied to ongoing projects in the classroom and in the community. Students use information and techniques from many disciplines to guide their inquiry into complex real-world issues. Our foundational courses in Environmental Science and Human Rights are closely related as students explore sustainability and other social issues. Pedagogy of Place, the practice of viewing one location as a cross-section of many ongoing issues, is central to our approach. We use guiding questions, in a seminar format, to examine issues from different angles including politics, technology, religion, economics, literature, and the arts. In an integrated curriculum, students and teachers are aware of the many connections between their studies and the world they live in, always relating what is learned in the classroom to its significance in the world at large.
The Middle School operates on a block schedule that provides the variety and choice that best serves the adolescent learning style. Humanities, Science, and Mathematics courses are divided into four 8 week blocks of study per academic year. Additional projects are undertaken in 1 or 2 week “intensives”.
The Middle School is a mixed level program with 7th and 8th graders sharing many lessons and projects. Some topics such as math, writing, and debate are given to ability-level groups. In their second year, students can choose from several electives in the sciences and arts.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.