Fieldston Middle’s academic program is designed to challenge students with relevant interdisciplinary coursework and create a meaningful and developmentally appropriate transition between elementary and high school. The program emphasizes critical-thinking skills, multiple forms of literacy, quantitative reasoning, self‐regulation, and organization.
Each of our courses is designed around an essential question, and our teachers look for natural connections among courses. At the core of our program is the strong working relationship students develop with their teachers, which encourages students to use their budding independence to advocate for themselves and become co-creators of their learning. Our goal in the middle school is to create an environment for our students that will stimulate, challenge, and encourage them to do their best work while allowing them the opportunities for collaboration and connection that are crucial for adolescents.
Our ethics curriculum is designed to help students better understand their purpose in the world and introduce them to service learning, issues of social justice, and personal decision making. Fieldston Middle also has a robust arts program and many athletic and co-curricular opportunities.
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, and 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 and 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 students' multi-faceted identities with respect for self and others through our Student-to-Student collaborative teaching program, where high school students lead small group discussions 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.