Upper School Pedagogy

MSR provides a truly complete course of study that integrates real-life learning into every subject area and every subject area into real-life learning.

This means that in English courses, your student annotates and dissects texts that intentionally connect with his Humanities studies in ways that raise complex and engaging questions — around social change, progress, immigration, survival, peace and justice, the very nature of knowledge, language, and and creativity — and then pursues open-ended projects, driven by his own genuine and advancing questions: Why do we need laws and how do we create and change them? How do natural resources affect human migration and power dynamics? Why does art matter?

It means that in our science labs, he isn’t just memorizing the facts; he’s observing and exploring the interconnectedness of living and nonliving systems — from the structure of a single cell to the massive forces that move oceans, make mountains, and send ships into space. And as he masters and exceeds state and national standards, he also develops hypotheses based on his own burning questions — How long can a zip-line be? What forms of life can survive in total darkness? Can robots exhibit real emotions? — and then he designs (rather than just performs) collaborative experiments, and reflects (rather than just reports) on his findings.

In short, the most memorable and meaningful learning happens when your student (and her questions, interests, and experiences) are at the center of a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum — even, or perhaps especially, as she tackles more advanced work. This kind of teaching requires the most masterful, most prepared, most actively engaged teachers.

Trained in our time-tested Montessori approach, MSR’s expert teachers plan for and continuously guide learning experiences that demand personal initiative and independent thinking from your student. And as she pursues answers to her own questions, her teachers help her to acquire the necessary knowledge and skillsets and then apply them in memorable and meaningful ways, supportively challenging her toward ever deeper inquiry, genuine engagement, and constant skill-building.

Even as this approach builds adult independence and growing intellectual, social, and emotional sophistication in our upper schoolers, it also keeps alight the imagination and wonder-filled energy of youth, ensuring that your student learns to fuel (rather than replace) her personal fascinations with ever more focused, vigorous, and disciplined study.