Though not a universal sentiment, many adults look back on middle school with strong aversion if not outright contempt.  So many of us hated middle school.  

Think back on being 12 -- what do you remember?  Sure, it was cool to get a locker, switch classes, and eat from a snack bar or vending machine for lunch, but very few people think back on those days and remember learning amazing things in the classroom.  

Now, in fairness, I loved middle school.  I had some great teachers with high expectations and an equal degree of commitment, several of whom I'm still occasionally in contact with to this day (Hey, Callesen!).  Much of that was due to the fact that my mom fought to get me into an excellent math/science public magnet school, which my scores certainly supported, but where students had to be placed via lottery due to over-enrollment.  Even then, there were over 30 of us in each class, so we often had to climb over each other for attention.   

But even at this quality program, the community was more inclined to celebrate when our sports teams won city championships than our MathCounts or Science Olympiad teams going to nationals.  Moreover, most of the best educational experiences I had were in supplemental activities like the ones just mentioned -- not necessarily in my day-to-day classes.  

The fact is, the curricular expectations in middle school are often set far too low.  Yes, they are still kids, and I am not advocating we deny middle school students age appropriate experiences, guidance, and support.  But they are also forming academic identities and possess incredible capacity for complex thinking.  Leaving those minds untapped and bored sets generations of kids up for disengagement and lack of preparedness down the road.  

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So how does BASIS Independent compare to public middle schools?  The courses we offer are aligned to high school and even college expectations, our teachers are experts in these varied disciplines and bring content alive for young learners, and we allow students take responsibility for their learning as individuals.  What does that look like?  Latin, logic, economics.  Physics, chemistry, AND biology every year.  Genuine study of literature and world history.  Most students will be done with at least Algebra II before high school.  Real labs.  Art, music, drama, engineering, robotics.  Extra tutoring from teachers and peers.  And a lot of fun, too (have you heard the stories of the Halloween dances and pieing of the administration in our sister schools?) and they aren't for just the 'gifted' -- everyone takes these courses.  And they love it!

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At the end of the day, even at very good public middle schools, the opportunity to get lost is too great.  I don't blame the hardworking educators and administrators at these places, often desperately trying to serve over 1000 students across three grades.  But without that degree of individual attention, a bad week in 6th grade can snowball into a bad month, bad years, and eventually, we settle for statements like "I'm just not good at math."  You absolutely can be, and at BASIS Independent we will get to know you to make sure we give every iota of support to match your hard work and determination. 

Middle school doesn't have to be the subject of our ire -- instead, it should leave us with a profound sense of awe.  

Over the next few months, we are going to share more posts with you about the brilliance of middle school at BASIS Independent Schools. Read our blog post The Scoop on 6th Grade which gives you a peek into daily life in our middle school program.

I invite you to ask me a question about the middle schools years in the comments below or in person at one of our upcoming Informational Events

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