The curriculum in the Middle School has a dual role: the presentation of information and the guiding of the students’ critical thinking skills from memorization to thoughtful, independent analysis of the material being presented. The curricular content continues to support the liberal arts background that IAS believes to be an integral part of each student’s educational foundation. In early adolescence, students begin to develop analytical thinking skills. Using the material in each course, Middle School teachers challenge their students to support opinions with facts and to question the world in which they live. The purpose is to continue the shaping of responsible young people who will contribute to their society.
Language Arts is divided into three main areas: composition, literature, and grammar. Writing good paragraphs is emphasized early, with multi-paragraph papers following throughout the year. Particular focus is given to sentence variety, coherence, and logical presentation of thoughts. The types of literature read include short stories, novels, drama, and poetry. Mythology and Classical American Literature are also studied. Both analytical interpretations and basic literary techniques, such as symbolism, foreshadowing, characterization, point of view, and literary types, are studied in relation to the reading. In grammar, parts of speech and parts of the sentence are formally presented, as are capitalization and punctuation. The student’s vocabulary is expanded by the assignment of thirty new words each week. The course meets for ten scheduled periods each week. Classroom activities include lecture, discussion, and workshop activities. Homework is assigned for every class period. Writing assignments include composition work as well as exercises from the grammar text. Each student keeps daily work in a copybook which the teacher collects and reviews periodically. Literature tests are done by the chapter and weekly spelling and vocabulary quizzes cover the words from that week’s lesson as well as review words from prior lessons. Quizzes, both announced and unannounced, cover current homework material.