Last week, our Middle School ventured up to our nation’s capital to explore the roots of American History and culture. Washington DC offers so many things to see and do, so it was hard to narrow down the most relevant activities that relate to what we have studied in the classroom. Following long preparation in the classroom, our students traveled to DC ready to learn and explore.
The preservation of our history was the key concept that students worked with during their study. They grappled with essential questions like:
- How do we make sure we remember our past and learn from it?
- What does it take to keep our most valuable artifacts safe and protected while still keeping them accessible?
- How do museums and memorials help us learn about what it means to be an American?
These ideas were at the center of conversations and activities that students participated in throughout their time in the city.
Each student was prepared with a packet of readings, lessons, reflection spaces, and sketch pads. They were encouraged to interact with all aspect of the environment around them. They discussed the importance of protecting our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) with new engineering technology, they sketched the Capitol Building, and created questions in preparation for a conversation with our Alabama Congressman Mr. Gary Palmer.
While learning about our capital is important for the next generation, field studies also expose students to valuable life skills that can only come from leaving the classroom.
Students carefully planned and executed traveling by public transportation throughout the city, even learning how to interpret metro rail maps and distinguish the signage within different stations. They learned responsibility through keeping track of their own money and budgeting appropriate amount for their own meals. They learned to keep track of their belongings, and how important it was to be prepared each day for what lies ahead.
Even after all of this, the most important part of a field study is building and fostering positive community. Maria Montessori herself intended this to be an essential part of an adolescent’s education. More important now than it ever has been before, our middle school students abandoned their devices and screens to opt for fun, engaging, and thoughtful conversations about the world around them. They learned to identify the strengths of each other and to work together as a team to accomplish a goal. They learned how to love each other and learn through shared experiences about who they are and where they belong.
At JBMA, field studies are a cornerstone of education for all of our students. Small or large, they help students explore their local, national, and global world. Learning experiences such as these are incredibly impactful for our students, and we are so grateful for a school community that supports and encourages these opportunities.