From the Head of Lower School: Broader Perspectives

As we know from our own lives and experiences, it’s important sometimes to pause our regular routines, open our minds, and focus on something new. Facilitating and encouraging a broader, global perspective is one of the pillars of the Moses Brown education; we believe in bringing the world to our classrooms and our classrooms to the world.

Fifth Graders during an activity with Sal Monteiro which emphasized cooperation. Photo: Dominique Sindayiganza

In this effort, we are excited to once again offer two exciting opportunities to our Lower School students this spring term. The first, for grade 5, is an eight-week program from the Non-Violence Institute. Since 2014, NVI’s Sal Monteiro has spent two periods a week with each section of grade 5, teaching positive tools, strategies, and skills to cope with conflict and challenges. Sal emphasizes the “hundreds of alternatives to violence” and the many shapes and forms violence can present as, even if seemingly innocent. “The earlier you can start this work, the better,” Sal told me, so that students can not only identify and manage violence around them, but also consider if they’re treating others with kindness – and being kind to themselves.

Meanwhile, starting Monday, grade 4 students have gone head-first into the World Peace Game, an intensive, week-long simulation where students each have a specific role towards achieving global prosperity. At every turn, students are faced with economic, environmental, and social challenges that threaten their objective, and must truly collaborate and negotiate in order to overcome these hurdles. Rob Pike, 4th grade teacher and Lower School TRIPs clerk, describes the process as a “very expansive learning experience, entirely different from their usual classroom experience” because “the students are in control of the whole thing.” Rob finds that students often make mistakes and become overwhelmed, but seeing how they “learn to swim in that context” and witnessing their commitment to “really think for a while” are perhaps the most exciting moments.

From my view, these exercises are crucial for our students because they not only facilitate a global perspective, but they also require teamwork, vulnerability, and a new and deeper understanding of each other. As we prepare our 4th and 5th grade students for middle school and beyond, we honor their intelligence, awareness, and emotional aptitude by holding this high bar – and find joy and pride in watching them reach beyond it.

OJ Marti
Head of Lower School