Among the twelve years of school life, there is no stage which receives as little attention as Middle school. Grade 6 – 10 do not get the focus of eager new parents with primary children or the anxious attention of Grade 11 & 12. Yet these under-valued years are crucial in shaping students – their success in learning and even the personality which they will carry into adulthood.
In fact middle school is when children learn how to learn, to be creative, how to apply their knowledge and discover new connections. Almost unique in developing these skills is the Middle Years Programme (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate. What makes the MYP exciting and different?
For one, in addition to the familiar subject areas of the sciences, math, language etc which are studied at a demanding conceptual level, the MYP focuses on teaching essential skills which become central to the curriculum itself. These include Lifeskills such as collaborating, resolving conflict, time management, and making healthy choices. Then there are research skills such as formulating questions, collecting and presenting research data, media literacy or learning academic honesty.
These become the foundation of preparing for higher studies. A most extraordinary feature of MYP is the Personal Project where students are free to choose a single topic of their own interest to work on for a year under the guidance of a supervisor. At Pathways School Noida, we have seen the most amazing creativity from our middle schoolers – creating a model for intergalactic transport, creating websites, video games or apps, writing a graphic novel or a poetry anthology, researching hydroponics as an alternative farming technique or designing dresses. Each project carries the unique imprint of an individual, often becoming the basis of a career many years later.
Providing exciting learning opportunities is the best way of tapping the creative energy which very often gets buried below the self-doubt and shyness which are typical of this age.