Curriculum

The Living-in-Maine Semester curriculum, like the ecosystem we study, is inherently interconnected.  The program begins during maple sugaring season.  The simple pursuit of maple sugar, for example, pulls into practice botany (how do we know this is a maple?), tree morphology (why is the sap rising?), indigenous studies (how did the First Peoples make sugar?), climate science (do the trees we tap sequester more carbon annually than is released by the wood-fired evaporator?), and physical education (sugaring is honest work!).

That being said, the curriculum can be segmented into five traditional disciplines: Natural Science; English Literature and Composition; History; Human Ecology; and Physical Education and Life Skills. We also weave the discipline of the Arts throughout our curriculum.

 

Receiving Credit:

Assessment:

At conclusion of the program we offer an academic transcript that includes a letter grade and a comprehensive written evaluation of your performance in each of the 5 courses taken.  Formal and informal evaluation and assessment are ongoing practices during the program.   

Receiving High School Credit:

We will work with your current school guidance counselor or academic dean to determine the transfer of credit.  Most schools honor the experience, granting a full semester’s worth of credit. High schools usually award one credit per year-long class, or .5 credits per semester-long class.  In the context of an immersive semester program our credit-hours far exceed that of traditional high-school.  For this reason some schools are willing to offer a full credit for each of the five core courses taken.  You will need to be proactive in communicating with your school.  We are happy to meet with your guidance counselor, dean, or advisor to discuss our curriculum and how your experience on the semester will both enrich your school and your future academic career.

Natural Science:  
Earth Systems, Climate Science and Forest Ecology
(1 or .5 credits)
 

History:  
Local history, a place-based investigation of human-ecological relationships pre and post European colonization.
(1 or .5 credits)
 

English Literature and Composition:  
Tracing the Stories of Place: Re-storying the landscape through creative writing and the voices of local and indigenous authors.
(1 or .5 credits)
 

Human Ecology:
Coming Home: An experiential and intellectual investigation of what it means to “live wisely in this place.”
(1 or .5 credits)
 

Physical Education and Life Skills:
Re-skilling: an immersive journey into the work, art, and skill of place-based living.
(1 or .5 credits)

 

Philosophy of Teaching & Learning:

Active Hope: 

"Hope is not something we have, but something we do," (Macy, 2012) - a verb, not a noun.  Everyday on the homestead we perform life-affirming activities that transform negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and hopelessness into energy for change.  The entire Living-in Maine-Semester embodies active hope!  

Place-Based and Applied: 

All learning originates from, or relates back to, our place, time, and situation. 

 

Interdisciplinary:

We teach across disciplines. Ecology, economy, history, literature, art, craft, and social studies collaborate to deepen understandings of Maine, N'dakina.

Climate Change Education: 

Because of its magnitude and scope we employ climate change as a unifying lens of investigation across disciplines.  Understanding the social, political, economic, philosophical, scientific and technological forces that have contributed to the climate crisis is foundational to educating change-makers. 

Reflection:

The most important part of experiential learning is reflection.  Reflection is like a cocoon, a quiet space in which experience transforms into understanding. The journal, sit-spot and “story of the day” are tools of daily reflective practice.   

 

Teacher-Student Relationship: 

Semester teachers recognize teachers and students as lifelong learners on the path of becoming their best selves.

Responsibility: 

Students earn and are entrusted with real responsibilities that affect the well-being of themselves and others.   

Growing Edges: 

Pushing beyond the edges of comfort, both physical and intellectual, is necessary for learning.  

Safe Space:

In daily practice we create a safe space for sharing, learning, and supporting each other.  It is imperative that students feel welcome to be their own true selves without fear of judgment. 

Multiple Ways of Knowing:

We recognize indigenous science, western science, intuition and love as equally valuable tools for making sense of our complex world.  

Ecological Intelligence:

Ecological intelligence stems from direct participation with the web of life.  Ecological intelligence grasps the vastness of time scales in nature, thinks outside of cultural norms, asks the big questions, and measures truth in metrics of ecological integrity.  Ultimately, ecological intelligence equips young people to trust their observations, draw their own conclusions, and act on behalf of the well being of the whole.

 

"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it."                                                  ~David W. Orr