By Donna Milani Luther, Head of School
In my forty years of teaching, I have taught in a variety of schools and what I appreciate most about Inly (and why I landed so happily here 18 years ago) is that it is a thoughtful, intentional blend of what is developmentally appropriate for children and what prepares children for their future—regardless of what their futures hold.
We know that we are preparing our students for life beyond Inly—for high school and college where they will still encounter traditional measures of academic success, like tests and quizzes. We also know that trends in secondary and higher education are rapidly moving toward flipped classrooms, experiential learning, and more Inly methods of demonstration of mastery, like collaborative projects and presentations. As educators in an ever-changing world, we know that we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t yet exist. That’s why we talk so much about grit—we know our students must be flexible, resilient, and know how to problem solve if they want to stand a chance in their dynamic future.
As I mentioned in a previous R&N article, Evolving the Montessori Pyramid, at Inly we combine tried and true Montessori methods with other harmonious practices—particularly at the upper elementary level and beyond. I like to call this approach Montessori “plus.”
While Inly’s curriculum is rigorous and benchmarked with the Common Core the “plus” is that we also teach next century skills including communication, creativity, ingenuity, and critical thinking. Through all of these teachings, we try to build each student’s self confidence and love of learning.
Fostering Lifelong Responsibility
Another “plus” at Inly plays out in how we teach our students responsibility. Our students are expected to be on time, manage their schedules, finish homework assignments, take tests and quizzes, and complete research projects. They routinely set goals, keep and refine work plans, and critically reflect on their own progress. Throughout all of these experiences, children ultimately learn how they best learn, and how to be responsible for their own learning, which is incredibly empowering and something we know they take with them in life.
Entering the Real World
Each step of the Inly journey builds upon itself, and each level brings exponential growth in our students. In our lower levels, students are mastering foundational academic skills, while they are encouraged to wonder and see themselves as part of a family, classroom, and school community. In Upper Elementary, our students expand and apply their academic skills in more challenging projects and explorations, which culminates in a sixth year intensive capstone project, and they begin to engage with their broader South Shore community through their weekly Service Learning curriculum. Once Inly students begin Middle School, the “plus” expands to include additional learning experiences that they are, by this time in their academic career, developmentally ready for. In Middle School, we give our students opportunities to go out into the real world through the Internship Program and our Montessori Model United Nations program. As a capstone experience for our 8th grade students this year, they will also participate in a two week immersion program through NuVu Studio, where they will solve real world problems using applied technology and design. Since Middle School aged children are fascinated with their roles in the larger society, all of these programs are important parts of their exploration of the world. Each of these programs offer authentic work experiences that lead our students to a greater sense of self and respect for others.
Life Beyond Inly
The most common observation I hear parents make of their children after they have graduated from Inly is that are passionate learners. They love the process of learning and take on new learning experiences with an enthusiasm that is unique from their peers. While those who graduate from Inly walk away with the more tangible academic measurements of success, this love of learning is actually the aspect of a student’s experience that is perhaps the most valuable. This sort of passion can be applied to any field of study and any career. It is invaluable. As Maria Montessori once said, “we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.” Our gift to our students as educators is not how many facts we have crammed into our student’s brains but rather how much passion for learning we were able to help them cultivate within themselves.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
– Albert Einstein
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti