News from the North House News & Reflections from the Middle School

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” -Mark Twain

As educators and practitioners in adolescent work, we are ever mindful of the development of the human personality that takes place during the teen years. Just as children, adolescents need real and authentic experiences to help them grow and develop intellectually, socially, and morally.

In providing an environment in which real and authentic experiences may emerge, there is no real substitute for being surrounded by wilderness and nature or for being completely immersed in busy city life with a community of peers. This is the reason for two important trips that together are a fundamental component of the program. We begin each year in the mountain wilderness of West Virginia, and as we near the end of each year, we venture to the streets of a big city.

This week, our students were hard at work researching, planning, and presenting information in preparation for next week’s trip to New York City. Academically, the trip is situated right between their studies of immigration and 20th century American history.

New York is the perfect destination for learning about these topics through on-site experiences. One day will focus on the topic of immigration with visits to locations such as Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum, Chinatown, and Little Italy.

Another will focus on New York’s role in American history and the international community that New York City became throughout the 20th century with visits to sites related to the Revolutionary War, Wall Street, the World Trade Center, and the 9/11 Memorial.

“A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.” E.B. White, Here Is New York

Throughout, students will be the tour guides, offering on-site presentations based on research they conducted this week.

In addition, they planned walking tours and mapped out the routes we will travel as we move from location to location.

Adolescents need to experience life in both simple and complex ways. They need to experience what it means to work diligently, to be independent, to be fully human, to sort out differences face to face, to communicate intelligently, and to be a responsible member of a society in association with others. Our academic based trips enable our young people to grow in amazing ways. We look to our NYC outing to be another defining moment of growth for everyone.

“The human personality is shaped by continuous experiences; it is up to us to create for children, for adolescents, for young people an environment, a world that will readily permit such formative experiences.” -Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

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