The Middle School

Educational Approach

Factual Content and Habits of Mind

As a student is developing an understanding of subject material, he should not only strive to understand the factual content but he should also be developing ways to learn more effectively. The role of the teacher in the middle school years is that of a guide as the student develops learning habits and academic skills. Long after a student has had to review the facts he learned in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade, he will likely still retain the lasting habits that helped him learn and will no doubt utilize these habits in more advanced subject material later in life. The habits that a student develops, including a love for learning, will ultimately have the greatest impact on his academic life as he matures.

Historically, all curriculums that claim to take a classical approach to education have their roots in the liberal arts. The liberal arts are not meant to be merely factual or pragmatic like many modern school curriculums; rather, the emphasis is both on training the mind for later use and on learning disciplines because they, in themselves, are worthy of learning. This distinction must be recognized in order to fully appreciate the meaning behind an education that emphasizes the liberal arts.

An emphasis on the liberal arts is found in the Middle School and throughout the Upper School at The Heights. The curricula and subject matter from the Middle School into the Upper School are designed to be vertically aligned. This vertical integration takes place in most subjects. Course content intentionally builds upon itself and teachers rely on a base of knowledge they understand to be previously constructed by classes students have already taken. The Upper School builds on the strong habits of mind fostered in the Middle School. Students in the Upper School continue to develop their habits while at the same time focusing on integrating, accumulating, and expressing the knowledge they absorb during their studies. The overall curricula at The Heights is based on the belief that some things are worth knowing for their own sake and that learning these things will improve the self and, secondarily, will also prepare a student for his future professional life and work.