6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Message From Michèle Solá: Welcome to 2016

Message From Michèle Solá: Welcome to 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Welcome to Nuestra Semana, Nuestro Mes, Nuestro Año: 2016. This will be an exciting year for Manhattan Country School, as we savor every week that goes by in familiar surroundings and imagine and wonder how things will change during the course of the year.

Nuestra Semana. This week began with a courtyard full of jubilant children reunited with friends and parents delighted with the return of school routines. The farm bus was outside and the Living Room was crowded with Fifth Floor families as a class headed off with Carolina on a winter farm trip.

I’ve been walking through the building and marveling at how easily students return to school when learning is meaningful, and curiosity, skill-building, experience, creativity and depth of understanding are embedded in the pedagogy of our school. Mapping their world, the 6-7s provide a whole new perspective on the work people do to make MCS the school that it is. (Check out the bulletin board on the third floor outside their classroom for a treat.)

At the lunch table, I’ve been hearing about the experiences classes gain from going on trips–observations of winter (finally) in Central Park, surveys 9-10s and fifth-grade math partners are completing around the building, the fifth grade heading to the United Nations, seventh- and eighth-graders visiting the Islamic art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum.  

Nuestro Mes. It’s January, a heady time at MCS. Echoes of freedom songs can be heard throughout the building as Susan and Donavon prepare for MLK assemblies. Eighth-graders have agreed on a title for the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March on January 18: “The Unarmed Truth.” The announcement explained, “It comes from MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: ‘I believe the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.’” The sixth grade is debating their definitions of non-violence, race versus skin color, and reviewing their knowledge about the sit-ins in Greensboro, children’s marches in Birmingham and the Freedom Summer in Mississippi. Next week, we’ll be mesmerized by the theatrical transformation of their understanding of a chapter of United States history, an ongoing struggle for freedom, equality and justice, and the origins of Manhattan Country School in a play titled “When Two Worlds Collide: The Fight For Freedom.”

Nuestro Ano. Nuestra Escuela. Nuestro MCS. After two weeks of being away from MCS and away from the relentless energy of youth, my faith in a quote from King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” is restored. I trust that is something we can and will take with us, in our move, and wherever our paths take us from a community that nurtures our individual and collective responsibility to make the world a better place.