Curricular Philosophy of MBS

Students working cooperatively on science project in labThe Morristown-Beard School curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving, independent thought, and intellectual risk taking. It supports cross-disciplinary connections and a holistic view of knowledge. It encourages integration of habits of intentional speaking and writing so that students may develop and articulate their ideas. The curriculum is process-oriented, and teachers’ assessment of student work reflects the means by which a student creates and learns in addition to final product. The curriculum at Morristown-Beard School esteems the qualitative as well as quantitative dimensions of learning and supports students' making connections to other areas of intellectual thought and the larger world.

We embrace the following principles to guide teachers in the deployment of their craft:

Critical thinking focuses on the way a student reasons and approaches a problem or situation; the process is of more importance than the particular subject area in which the thinking is instantiated.

Risk-taking is encouraged. The reward structure of an educational setting should recognize this as a valid learning modality, even when an investigation does not proceed as expected. Appropriate follow-up should be encouraged. Play or a sense of fun is a key component in nurturing appropriate intellectual risk-taking.

Writing is a means of thinking and developing thoughts, not just a way to record pre-existing ideas. Analytic and reflective writing should not be the exclusive domain of the traditional text-based disciplines, but should be actively encouraged across the curriculum.

Assessment of student learning and thinking is driven by educational objectives. It is not limited to in-class test-taking, but may take many forms. Assessments attempt wherever possible to engage higher-order cognitive functions. They should themselves contain a learning component going beyond the mere recycling of information.

Connections can be made across disciplines, more so as students mature. This includes reflections among common or connected subject areas, common approaches to solving problems, and deep-seated principles.

Homework should be germane to the educational objectives of a course and not exceed what is needed to achieve those objectives.

Professional awareness of basic theories and modalities of learning is expected of all MBS teachers, along with understanding of the fundamental questions that drive educational research. Teachers should model the behavior of risk-taking and critical thinking expected of their students.

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