Blue Mountain School

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Learning Philosophy

At Blue Mountain School, we practice a Contemplative Progressive model.

Contemplative Education – Blue Mountain School helps students develop their awareness, concentration, and insight. We strive to use processes that illuminate the innate wisdom of human beings and cultivate a growing sense of peace and wonderment in everyday life.

We practice:

  • The exploration of Wisdom Traditions near and far as a means to understand the spirit
  • Poetry and storytelling as a means to explore the human condition
  • Movement arts as a means to explore and enhance one’s sense of physical connectedness and awareness
  • Silence and meditation as a means for reflection and inner awareness
  • Self-reflection and self-mastery techniques as a means to act with intention and thoughtfulness
Progressive Education – Blue Mountain School promotes Social-Emotional Learning and critical thinking through experiential activities and creative expression in a collaborative, project-based curriculum.

We practice:
  • The development of intrinsic values over extrinsic punishment-reward systems
  • Teacher-student collaboration in the learning process; ‘doing with’ instead of ‘doing to’
  • Social-Emotional Learning to meet a child’s social, emotional, and intellectual needs
  • A Project-based curriculum with subjects overlapping, as they often naturally do
  • Creative expression and reflection as a tool to find meaning and internalize learning

How do the Contemplative and Progressive models work together? Combined, these practices provide a holistic approach to education that nurtures the mind and the heart, the rational and the creative, the physical and the metaphysical; together, the Contemplative and Progressive models honor the whole child.

Parent Involvement 
Blue Mountain School recognizes that children are most at peace and able to learn when they are supported by all of the important people in their lives. We also honor the clear influence that home and school have on each other.  As a result, we encourage family participation in the classroom, at our frequent family and community events, and in our family and staff retreats.
Assessment and Grades
Our school uses several different tools to assess a child’s academic, social, and emotional growth. We do not engage in standardized testing. Our students and teachers work together to complete a portfolio of the students’ work for review several times throughout the year. The portfolio is used in place of grades.

Learning in the Early Childhood Class

We believe that play is the work of early childhood. We facilitate imaginative play with realistic and useful tools and activities that reflect the "real world" of which children are an important part. Whether the children are pretending to feed their friends who are visiting their restaurant, building a house out of playstands and silks, or sanding blocks for the classroom, they learn that their minds and bodies can work together toward a meaningful end. In our Early Childhood classroom, our students’ sense of competence and purpose is also facilitated by preparing for and cleaning-up after their snacks and meals, caring for toys and classroom items, and participating in many group activities in which they learn new songs, stories, and fingerplays. Each school day has a rhythm that includes play time, group time, focused circle time, outdoor time, and snack time. Art, music, and movement also each play a prevalent role in the Early Childhood classroom.

Learning in the Early Learning Class

The Early Learning classroom provides a bridge between the safety and rhythm of the Early Childhood classroom and the increased possibilities for skill building that characterize the Elementary classroom. Imaginative play remains an important part of the day for Early Learning students, and they also work to increase their capacity for reflection and awareness, which brings new challenges for them. “I wonder why…?” is a hallmark question for children in this classroom, and their work is characterized by an expanded sense of themselves and the world at large. 

Our Early Learning students begin exploring new skills at their own pace. Learning to think about letters and numbers as symbols with meaning is an important development for children in this class, and putting those letters and numbers together to communicate their ideas in writing is an exciting new activity.

Learning in the Elementary and Middle School Classes

The contemplative elements of our model support the belief that discipline and structure facilitate self-mastery and competence. The progressive elements of our model support the belief that freedom and choice facilitate discovery and increasing responsibility. The place where the contemplative and progressive aspects of our model come into balance is with Elementary and Middle School students, as their teachers work to balance their students' need for structure with their increasing need for freedom and choice as they grow.

Our Elementary and Middle School teachers help students develop self-awareness, curiosity, and confidence by starting most classroom activities with an assessment of what students already know about the topic or skill. This process helps teachers and students to identify the areas that need attention and develop some expectations and goals for the activity. 

As students explore new topics and skills, teachers encourage questions like: What did we expect to learn? What did we observe? Did we answer our questions or learn all that we wanted to about this topic? Do we need to spend more time trying to answer our questions or exploring what we've learned?

Questions like these help students reflect on what they are learning, so that they can make new connections and find meaning in each lesson and activity.

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