What sets Barrie School apart?
- Active Learning
- Academic Excellence
- A Deep Sense of Belonging
- Student Voice and Responsibility
John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, said, “...education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process.”
Active Learning is foundational to Barrie School’s approach to education. It is the common ground between Montessori and Project-Based Learning and—we believe—key to excellence and cultivating a love of learning.
Active learning means that teachers provide a robust educational journey for students so that they learn through an intentional combination of kinesthetic experiences, abstract and theoretical concepts, visual and auditory inputs, and relevant connections to real world experiences.
Based on the latest findings in neuroscience, Active Learning is designed to promote multiple pathways for student empowerment to incorporate their education into their long-term memory and become learning that lasts.
At Barrie, this begins at the earliest ages, when Montessori learners choose their own work, are challenged by teachers to explore new topics, and then reteach what they have mastered to their peers. As students grow, they are continually empowered to take charge of their own learning. Project-Based Learning emphasizes analysis, research, creation, and innovation of strategies and solutions.
This empowerment produces motivation to do and learn more in the future. Mistakes and mishaps are not points of failure but opportunities for reflection and growth—an experience that goes beyond typical book-learning and teaching to a test. Students are more likely to internalize what is being taught and walk away with the confidence to apply knowledge and skills to the next lesson, whether it be on campus, on a school trip, or in their community.
At Barrie School active participation is the first step in understanding and mastering more and more complex concepts. We believe that active participation is fed by intrinsic motivation, and that the key to academic excellence is unlocking the self-motivation that every learner has inside.
We define academic excellence as both the demonstration of mastery and the cultivation of a lifelong love of learning. We use a variety of proof points which go beyond grades and assessments to include real world experiences that foster student growth.
From partnering on projects with professional scientists, to putting on art shows and theater performances, to students articulating what they are learning to one another and to an adult audience, we see excellence as an ongoing pursuit rather than a single event.
Rather than imposing pressure to cram information and regurgitate facts, we use tests as assessment tools, and we focus on learning experiences where the process is as important as the outcome. The grasp of concrete knowledge is then a pathway to the development of critical thinking skills like research, evaluation, and problem solving.
Our students can go beyond just finding solutions to the problems put in front of them by developing the skills needed to identify the most intriguing problems to solve. From there, genuine achievement follows, as do qualities that lead to real-world success—creativity, leadership, teamwork, and social and emotional literacy.
What do students need to feel and experience now in order to thrive in their futures? Barrie School uses a rich array of challenging experiences to nurture a sensitivity to the design of objects and systems. Students are empowered to shape their world through building, tinkering, re/designing, or hacking.
Our goal is to develop a community of creative thinkers, foster a mindset of risk-taking, and enable students to adapt and succeed.
Check out this article in PHYS.ORG (published May 2022) about a project by MUS science students and their teacher Rebecca Bushway for which they used a 3D printer and their chemistry knowledge to design a filter that removes lead from water. Project-based learning in action!
At Barrie School, our commitment to respect for self, each other, and the environment, and diversity, equity and inclusion come together to create a community where everyone can feel a deep sense of belonging.
A sense of belonging is crucial to our day-to-day happiness, satisfaction, and mental and physical health. It gives us all purpose and meaning.
We acknowledge the dignity and worth of every individual, including ourselves. And we honor and celebrate the uniqueness of each other because we recognize that differences within our community and the broader world are an important source of enrichment and interpersonal growth.
We build this understanding into our curriculum and into ongoing efforts to make sure every member of the Barrie community feels they belong. These efforts include:
Celebrating the diverse identities and experiences of our students, families, teachers, and staff
Fostering student-teacher relationships characterized by trust and mutual respect
- Creating age-appropriate student programming on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Community programming to build a sense of belonging among all families, students, and staff
- Memorable experiences. Personalized interactions. Youth-adult relationships that are tailor-fit to student interests.
Use Your Voice at Barrie School
Empowering students to find their voice is central to Barrie School’s educational philosophy.
Student ideas, opinions and expertise are valued and incorporated at all levels, from students collaborating with teachers to set the rules of the classroom and choosing their work, to students partnering in curriculum design and participating in hiring decisions. From Day #1, our students learn not only the power of their voices, but the responsibility and accountability inherent in using them.
We believe that voice and choice support a collaborative culture and increase engagement with learning. Elevating student voice and actively incorporating it into the day-to-day experience provides authentic opportunities for self-advocacy, problem solving, leadership and creative thinking. We also believe that living this value goes beyond what students learn in a classroom to what they choose to put their voice and energy toward.
Honoring this value goes a long way toward developing people who are capable and active local and global citizens.
A tradition for our 8th graders, Poetry Slam is a true celebration of student voice. All performed poetry is original student work, and many students choose edgy, difficult, personal topics.
During a two-month long writing process, students focus on the genre of spoken-word poetry, writing, editing, and refining their pieces. Students grapple with word choice and poetic language such as metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, imagery, and alliteration. They come to understand how each of these poetic elements helps communicate a message and an impact to an audience. In the late spring, students perform their poems in front of the entire school community and learn in-depth about vocalization, body language, pace, volume, articulation, intonation, and storytelling.
Let’s stop talking about what we can do to shape the future of education. Instead, let’s build it and inspire a generation of innovators.