Students who transferred to TNS from other schools describe the difference!
At The New School, students learn how to take charge of their education. Their interests and passions are ignited by a wide range of choice in the curriculum and the experience of designing their own courses of study. Depending on their interests, learning might take place in our building or an art studio in NYC, on an island off the Maine coast or an organic farm in the Midwest, or in a remote village in Central America. Seminar-style classes, field studies, apprenticeships, interdisciplinary courses and three-week “Intensives” bring a depth of understanding that relatively few young people acquire, and build confident, accomplished, self-directed learners.
In keeping with the State of ME Learning Results standards, our curriculum consists in part of core courses in the areas of English & Language Arts, American History and Government, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Physical Education, Health, Fine Arts and World Languages.
Electives at TNS vary widely and are limited only by students’ interests and imaginations. Helping students find their passions and discover who they are is a central aim of TNS. Over the years, in direct response to students’ requests we have offered courses such as Gaelic, Food & Culture, Aikido, Economics & World Issues, American Sign Language, Chess, and many others.
All entering students take a Self-Directed Learning Seminar to orient them to the school’s approach, discuss different ways of learning and discover their own learning styles, learn independent study and research skills, and become familiar with the ME Learning Results and underlying Guiding Principles.
Students also develop Personal Learning Plans which outline their academic, health and personal goals. Every student meets weekly with a Faculty Advisor who helps them design their Plans, document and assess their work, troubleshoot challenges that arise, build their portfolios, understand their learning styles, manage their time, be a contributing member of the school community and explore careers and post-graduate studies.
Courses at TNS are often interdisciplinary and include real work in the community — for instance, students might learn chemistry and biology while restoring a local wetland. During election years students study the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the history of elections while working on referenda or helping candidates of their choice.
Apprenticeships and Independent Studies with local artisans, non-profit organizations and businesses are commonplace. The New School has a wide network of community members who act as mentors to students, providing relationships with significant adults and the chance to experience new learning in a living context. Typical studies have been alternative energy engineering, early childhood development at local elementary schools, organic gardening with local farmers, bicycle repair, antique trolley restoration, veterinary medicine and equestrian science at a horse farm.
Each year TNS offers a number of Challenge Courses at advanced levels. Third and fourth year students are encouraged to take courses at local colleges to acquire direct experience with college level coursework.
During their final year at TNS students participate in weekly Senior Seminars with their Advisors to prepare them for graduation requirements, develop their portfolios, apply and schedule visits to colleges, or explore and transition to careers.
A Senior Project is a significant undertaking designed and implemented by students during their final year. Projects requires a minimum of 200 hours and may take place on-site or away from school. Projects are reviewed by a committee of at least 7 people, including parents, peers, Faculty Advisor, and others chosen by the student. The student must explicitly show how the project reflects the Maine Learning Results and Guiding Principles. Below are a few examples of Senior Projects: