A Personalized Education

The chance to seek intellectual experiences of substance and meaning is a prerogative of every MBS student. Sometimes, though, a student has a desire to explore a subject not offered in our standard curriculum. To address this gap, we have created an Independent Study Program that has become one of the hallmarks of our curriculum. Working closely and in a highly-customized manner with a faculty member, students can pursue self-directed learning projects to explore their intellectual passions. In an IS course, students and teachers working together design the course, the material to be covered, the assignments, and the final product.

Intrigued by the observation that “the deaf community has a language all their own that connects them,” Lindsay Friedman ’16 embarked on an independent study project last year to explore American Sign Language (ASL) with teacher Jeanine Erickson. They focused on “three-dimensional” learning — interpersonal communication and the use of multimedia resources like videos, as opposed to pictures — and mastering the art of mirroring (as a lefty, it proved challenging to reproduce the signs traditionally demonstrated by right-handed people).

As her end-of-year project, Friedman signed the lyrics to a student vocal performance at Morning Meeting. “I felt so passionate about the work I had done,” Friedman explained, “that it gave me the courage I needed to get up and sign in front of my teachers, and in front of hundreds of peers. This highly-personalized learning experience has been, and continues to be, incredibly rewarding.”

Friedman will continue studying ASL this year at MBS as she aims toward fluency, focusing on facial expressions and interpreting. As part of her project, Friedman will examine, in a written essay, the influence of deaf culture on hearing communities (and vice-versa) in her community. In addition, she launched a sign language club at MBS and hopes to volunteer next semester in a school for deaf children.

Does your school do something similar?

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