Gender Separated Classrooms
In order to meet the unique needs of Middle School students, all core classes are separated by gender. This has proven very successful for our students. It allows freedom for safe classroom discussion and participation, less distractions, and a supportive classroom environment among peers of the same gender.
Biblical Worldview Integration
Each subject at Bear Creek is taught from an overtly Biblical perspective or worldview. By incorporating the essential truths of the Bible (about Creation, Fall and Redemption), into daily teaching, we help students see that God‘s Word has something profoundly relevant to say about what they are learning. Similarly, what the students learn in class can validate and confirm what the Bible teaches and, in so doing, point to Christ. Put simply, in their pursuit of truth, students come to learn that, “All truth is God’s truth.”
Classical education encompasses three primary things:
What we learn: “We are concerned with classics where the classics mean anything of enduring value.” (Mortimer Adler, The Paideia Proposal). Our focus is on the study of traditional, classical subject material. For example, students are exposed to the great works of Western literature to help them understand and think with greater depth about the world around them.
How we learn: Bear Creek is concerned that a student genuinely learns to think and actively engages in the learning process; that he/she learns to reason as well as gain knowledge and skills in the various disciplines. The middle school years represent the middle stage of the Trivium. At this time, students continue to learn facts (the grammar stage of learning) but reasoning skills will have a more predominant role in learning. Students spend an increasing amount of time and effort in the understanding of facts and the relationships between those facts (the logic or dialectic stage of learning). Discussion, debate and argument figure highly in the middle school classroom, corresponding well with what Dorothy Sayers called the “pert” developmental stage of students in grades 7 and 8.
Why we learn: Many education systems have a utilitarian goal (good grades = good college = well-paid job). By contrast, a classical education is designed to develop wisdom and virtue. Our goal is to nurture the students to become the people that God intends. Put simply, at Bear Creek, character matters more than grades. Ultimately, of course, a truly classical, Christian education points to the gospel message that we can only be “made perfect” through Christ.
Core subjects are taught within departments in Middle School. There are seven departments: History, Science, Classics/Latin, English, Math, Christian Studies and Physical Education. In addition, there are a number of elective classes that students have the option to study. Teachers plan their curricula and share pedagogical ideas within departments. Read more about our Curriculum.
Students receive Latin instruction as part of their core curriculum, which provides an excellent foundation for language. Learning Latin helps students better understand English vocabulary and complex grammatical concepts. It also aids in the acquisition of other languages that are derived from Latin.
Bear Creek’s JanTerm program is a two week mini-semester during which all Middle School and Upper School students choose to enroll in four topical seminars taught by Bear Creek faculty and administrators.
The overarching goals of JanTerm are to enhance depth of learning and dialogue. JanTerm allows Bear Creek to invest in courses that may not fit into the traditional academic year, but are perfect for shorter, intensive study. Students choose from over 50 courses per year that would otherwise not be offered in the standard curriculum. JanTerm courses will emphasize the Socratic method of learning, with reflection and discussion as major experiential learning tools. Students and teachers approach their topic together—teachers guide student learning, but also step back to allow students to lead portions of the course.
Teachers in Grades 7 and 8 meet in cross-curricular, grade-level teams at least once a month. The purpose of such meetings are three-fold:
- To discuss curriculum and, in particular, cross-curricular integration that is taking place in humanities subjects. This allows students to make connections between subjects.
- To provide support for any students who are having difficulties, whether social or academic.
- To coordinate dates for tests, quizzes and project hand-in deadlines so that the workload for students is balanced.