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Facilitating positive connections with self, peers, staff, parents, community, service and God.
Students are wanting to belong to a community where they can create positive connections.
In Middle School, students have the opportunity to discover their self-worth, unique identity and self-confidence. This includes students understanding the dynamics of healthy interactions with their peers and parents. Respectful relationships with staff compliments the students' sense of College community. Home room teachers allow each student to connect with a teacher who keeps track of the students' well-being. Middle School promotes open communication between students, teachers and parents.
Middle School helps fosters a desire to serve other, and look outside themselves.
Students have the opportunity to develop a relationship with God through personal Bible studies, Bible classes, class worships, Week of Worship (WOW) and Chapel.
For many students the transition from primary to secondary school can be exciting and smooth sailing. For others it can be a time of apprehension and anxiety. Many young adolescents feel an intense need to belong and be accepted by their peers. They strive to be independent, but while outwardly confident they are often insecure and sensitive to personal criticism. They increasingly turn to their peers to define their language, attitudes, self-image and values.
As students in the classroom they seek challenge and engagement. A hands-on approach is often preferred with the opportunity to have a say in what they learn, how they learn and how they will be assessed. They enjoy working cooperatively with their peers yet also like working independently on individual research and projects. Middle Years’ students are progressively developing the ability to manage their own learning.
Middle schools are needed to provide students in early adolescence with an environment that can help them negotiate the impact of puberty on lives. As educators we understand the developmental needs of young adolescents and in particular their neurological, social, emotional, and metacognitive growth. There are several educational practices that are extremely detrimental to the middle school student such as fragmented curricula, large impersonal schools, and lesson plans that lack vitality. Educational practices at the best schools honour the developmental uniqueness of young adolescents, including the provision of a safe school environment, student-initiated learning, student roles in decision making, and strong adult role models.
Middle schooling is an educational approach designed to better cater for the physical, social, emotional, moral and cognitive needs of young people. At Hills Adventist College it provides a bridge between the primary and secondary phases of schooling by creating an educational environment specifically tailored to the needs of young adolescent learners in Years 5 to 8.
The Middle School curriculum encourages cross curricular links. Units drawing from common contexts have been developed in subjects such as English and History. The content and skills learned in one subject support and extend those learned in another, and also encourage a less compartmentalised view of knowledge and learning.
At present the Middle School Curriculum comprises: the Core Program and the Rotational Program. All students are engaged in an extensive Core Program. Subjects taught within the core curriculum include English, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Religious Studies, Physical and Health Education, Music, Visual Art and Languages other than English (during stage 4). Three quarters of the total available teaching time is allocated to subjects in the Core Program.
The Rotational Program provides students with the opportunity to encounter a range of learning experiences focussing on Design and Technology. Specific rotational classes include Computing, Design and Technology, Food Technology and Textiles. Further details regarding individual subject programmes can be obtained through the Head of Department.
The literature written about the middle years of schooling suggests that adolescence is a significant stage of life in its own right and as such has its own characteristic elements and challenges. Young adolescents are a particular group undergoing rapid physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. This development is complex, variable and interactive. Adolescence itself, as it is understood and experienced in most advanced industrial societies, is the transition from childhood to adulthood, beginning with puberty. It is a period of development more rapid than any other phase of life except infancy. Adolescent development is neither singular nor simple, and aspects of growth during adolescence are seldom in step with each other, neither within individuals nor among peers.
(Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development (1989) Turning points: Preparing American youth for the 21st century The Report of the Task Force on Education of Young Adolescents New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York)
Young adolescents have a range of developmental needs which may be regarded as developmental tasks to be accomplished. For example, these tasks are to:
- adjust to profound personal changes: physical, social, emotional and intellectual
- grow towards independence
- gain experience in decision-making and accept responsibility for these decisions
- gain positive self-confidence through achieving success in significant events
- develop a sense of identity which incorporates a set of personal values
- establish their own sexual identity
- gain acceptance, support and respect of their peers of the same and opposite sex
- develop their capacity for reflective and abstract thinking
- become more aware of their social and political environments and become more skilled in their interaction with those environments
- establish and maintain relationships with particular adults who can provide support and act as role models.
(Hargreaves, A and Earl, L (1990) Rights of passage: A review of selected research about schooling in the transition years Toronto: Ontario Ministry for Education).