Felix Adler referred often to the idea of
“diversity in the creed – unanimity in the deed.” This idea, that there are a
variety of approaches directed toward a common commitment to active engagement,
is a living foundation that informs the Ethics and Community Service Learning
program. Our program is based on the personal, social, and intellectual development
of students and responds to the moral issues that our students experience and
witness in the world. In that context,
we offer a course of study that identifies moral and social intersections,
draws on Fieldston’s ethical humanist traditions and expands student
understanding of the larger field of ethics. What school wouldn’t want to
address moral development? At Fieldston our unique approach consists of a formalized
program and pedagogy that builds skills of critical inquiry and self-examination
at each stage of development so that a student's social, emotional, academic development is
addressed hand in hand with moral development.
As students navigate the transition from childhood to adolescence they have opportunities to explore their social identities and identity contingencies, and examine issues of integrity in decision-making. Our process and content are student-based and consist of peer-to-peer learning through coordinated teaching between teachers, high school student leaders, and the middle school students’ practice and theory come together in the action arm of the Ethics curriculum where students explore issues of sustainability and community service learning. As students develop these myriad skills and a deeper critical awareness, it increases their sensitivity to the moral dimension of the issues they encounter. Our curriculum fuels a very foundational public purpose that is at the core of the school. As Adler would say, "the mind guides the hand."
In the sixth grade, Ethics classes focus on the theme of eco-literacy: building from sustainability of self to sustainability of relationships with others, to sustainability of the environment.
In the seventh grade, Ethics classes focus on developing their multi-faceted identities with respect for self and others through our Student-to-Student collaborative teaching program, where high school students lead small group discussion and support the curriculum.
In the eighth grade, Ethics classes focus on issues pertinent to managing conflict and difficult adolescent decisions with integrity. Here our Student-to-Student collaborative teaching program is responsible for the bulk of the classroom teaching and assessment.
The arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education; therefore, theatre and dance are introduced to middle school students with the aim of educating the whole child. Students study the techniques and building blocks of dance, drama, and stagecraft. Throughout the department, students are encouraged to see the world through their own artistic vision. Students work imaginatively and collaboratively in process-oriented studies. Theatre and dance experiences provide an artistic dimension to academic studies, making “thought into action” and creative risk-taking the centerpiece. Fieldston's Theatre and Dance department is a safe and collaborative environment that allows and encourages creative exploration and self-expression.