Experience Beyond the Classroom/Special Programming Day: Wednesday, October 16

by Sam Uzwack, Head of Middle School and Student Support

“Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.” – Albert Einstein

A few years back, our 5th-grade historical thinking teacher asked me to help with an orienteering lesson. I was a Navigation Instructor at the time for The Mountaineers, so I was ecstatic to share (read: show off) my knowledge to a room full of 10 and 11-year-olds. Enthusiastically, I prepared an 87-slide PowerPoint deck, laid out an Orienteering Course around the campus, and gathered the necessary materials. Finally, the day arrived when I taught my lesson. After forty minutes of careful explanations, including key learnings such as “declination” and “NAD27 Datum”, the time had come to distribute their compasses.

That’s when it all went sideways.

Despite all my thorough explanations, diagrams, and vocabulary checks, the students had no earthly idea how to hold the compass. Which way to point it. Which way was up. It was a crushing defeat.

But it was also a fantastic reminder about the nature of learning. Had I simply started with the experience of holding the compass, understanding it in the real world, I would have provided the foundation for the knowledge to come.

The EPS approach to teaching and learning is based on three core tenets: Inquiry, Integration, and Experience. Our upcoming Experience Beyond the Classroom/Special Programming Day is an entire school day dedicated (for the most part) to getting students off-campus and engaged in the world outside our walls.

In the Middle School, the line-up is as follows:

  • 5th Grade          Pacific Science Center: Exhibit Study and Class Bonding
  • 6th Grade          Identity Study and trip to Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Fam
  • 7th Grade          Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center (part of the Historical Thinking 2 curriculum)
  • 8th Grade          Wing Luke Museum (part of the Historical Thinking 3 and Literary Thinking 3 curriculum)

In the Upper School, some key business items are planned for the day (hence the moniker Special Programming Day), in addition to the 9th grade venturing off campus:

  • 9th Grade          Seattle Public Library and SIFF Cinema
  • 10th Grade        PSATs and Wellness Activities
  • 11th Grade        PSATs and Wellness Activities
  • 12th Grade        College Counseling Work Party and Wellness Activities

By now you should have heard about your students’ activities for the day. If not, please contact Sam Uzwack, Head of Middle School or John Stegeman, Head of Upper School, if you have any further questions.