Learning at Meridian: An Introduction
Because curiosity is the foundation of lifelong learning, adolescents must have opportunities for expressing and pursuing their own questions. Meridian students learn how to propose, plan, and carry out original projects that address their inquiries and express their ideas in novel ways.
Educators frequently note that adolescents are most engaged in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, theater, Model UN, debate, and visual arts. In its seven-year academic program, Meridian deliberately incorporates the attributes of these activities:
- Long-term endeavors: Students work in-depth on a few tasks for an extended time, refining their skills and knowledge as they go.
- Coaching: A mentor guides the students as they work, offering advice, provocative questioning, and support. Students are encouraged to make mistakes and try again.
- Authentic tasks: Students undertake meaningful work that has relevance in their world.
- Public exhibition: Peers, parents, teachers, and other community members see the performances, read the essays, and examine the experiments. This audience cares about the work that students do and provides meaningful feedback, questions, and encouragement.
Interdisciplinary courses have rich and useful advantages over more traditional fragmented models. Good learning is inherently about the making of connections between ideas. Within classes that bridge literature and history or mathematics and science, students have the opportunity to make broader and more sophisticated connections, and they can better see the relationships between events and ideas that they study. In this way, the model of the Renaissance learner who can synthesize ideas from diverse intellectual realms is at the heart of Meridian’s curriculum. Classes are taught in longer blocks with time for focused, uninterrupted efforts. Students can explore bigger topics in greater depth, and teachers assign fewer and more engaging homework assignments.
Meridian classes are also multi-age. Spanish classes are sectioned by skill level and can include students from many grades. Electives, extracurricular activities, and Community Groups are all multi-age experiences. When our school travels on field trips and overnight programs facilitators frequently comment that they cannot tell where one grade begins and the next ends. Humanities and MST classes are grouped according to the following structure:
- Division 1 - Grades 6 and 7
- Division 2 - Grade 8
- Division 3 - Grades 9 and 10
- Division 4 - Grades 11 and 12
Scope & Sequence
Meridian’s curriculum is built around three main interdisciplinary subjects:
- Humanities, which includes English, literature, art and drama, history, and the social sciences;
- Mathematics, Science, and Technology (MST); and
- World Languages.
The course sequence is below. Be sure to also check out each subject’s page, linked above, to learn more about specific classes.
|Math, Science, Technology||Humanities||Spanish*|
|Division 1||Engineering||Heroes and Villians|
*Sectioned by readiness
|Middle School Novice|
|Doing Research in Mathematics and Science||Media and Journalism||Middle School Novice High|
|Division 2||Marine Science||Constitution Nation||Middle School Intermediate|
|Division 3||Revolutions in Mathematics and Science||American Historiography||High School Intermediate I|
|Human Biology and Decision Making||Western Thought||High School Intermediate II|
|Division 4||Physics and Calculus||Civilization from East to West||Advanced Spanish||Junior Year Project|
|Mathematical Research and Modeling||Student and Teacher Co-Designed Course||Advanced Spanish||Internships|
Below is a sample student's weekly schedule, though Meridian's small size makes it possible to accommodate diverse curricular needs and activities beyond the school building. This schedule often shifts to make space for field trips to museums and performances, visiting teachers and experts, and in-school research experiments. After school, students often participate in extra-curricular activities such as music, athletics, or theater, get extra help from a teacher, or just hang out with classmates.