One of the biggest big ideas at the Mastery School of Hawken is just how much control you have over your education. Each student will master key skills and content knowledge, but the paths will vary based on what you need and when you need it.
Think of Micros as a playlist of projects that you create throughout your semesters to pursue depth, passions, and mastery. Micros give you some of what you want and some of what you need. They are short bursts of action with a clear focus. Most Micros stretch a few weeks and focus on a specific skill or content area.
The ‘Why’ Behind Micros
Traditional school is based on the idea that everyone needs to learn the same thing at the same time. We disagree.
Individualizing pace and path means constructing the Micros path that is right for you and is as unique as your fingerprint. Everyone has their own growing to do, and yours doesn’t have to look the same as anyone else’s – nor should it.
The path is flexible because we know that you’re in the process of becoming. You can rewrite it as the year goes on, in consultation with your Wayfinding mentor and your parents.
Life happens, curiosity happens, and we think school should flex to accommodate that.
What Do Micros
Let Me Do?
Micros are modular.
You can move them around, or double-stack them if you find a project takes more time. It’s up to you, the learner, with guidance from your mentor.
Micros are flexible.
Some Micros might take only a week or two while others might turn into long-term explorations. Instead of being locked into a semester-long or year-long course, you’ll have a chance to move on to the next big idea when you’re ready to move.
Micros are designed for student voice and choice.
No two students’ Micros paths will be identical. In Micros, teachers will help you learn what you need most, and you get to decide what you want to focus on and how your work will help you earn Mastery Credits. You’re not alone though. You’ll have the kind of mentoring that will drive your work to go deeper and become more meaningful than you might envision when you begin.
Some Micros are designed for you by teachers who will identify what you need in order to grow in a particular area. Other times, you’ll design Micros yourself with the guidance of teachers and mentors.
Crucially, each Micro is designed with learning goals in mind. You might be pursuing an Advanced Mastery Credit of your own choosing or looking to fill out the evidence for a Foundational Credit. Either way, though, you need to get approval from your teacher before you begin, to make sure you’re on a purposeful path.
At the start, you’ll pick from teacher-designed projects for your Micros. As you develop your skills in self-directed learning, you’ll work with teachers to co-design some projects, and eventually you’ll prove that you can structure and manage learning experiences effectively for yourself. At that point, you’ll also have the license to design your own Micros, if you choose to.
Micros sound different than what you do in most schools. Some specifics might help. Let’s say you want to…
Extend something you’re interested in learning more about.
- Suppose that in your Macro, you work on a challenge where you’re designing the renovation of a historic home with an architect. As you research the history of Ohio City, you become really interested in learning more about it and want to write a piece of historical fiction — or slam poetry, or a short film — set in Ohio City in the 1850s. Great! Slide that project into your queue of Micros.
- Or maybe what interests you most in this project is learning to use new design tools like Sketchup, and you want to pursue a Micro in design. No problem — come to your next Wayfinding meeting with some ideas, and your mentor will ask some questions and suggest some resources to help you turn that into a Micro.
Complement your Macro.
- Maybe this semester, your Macro is focused on arts and storytelling. In your Macro, you’re writing plays, designing sets, and collaborating with others. In the meantime, you’re plugging away on pre-calculus projects in your Micro.
Reinforce or scaffold something you’re working on.
- Each one of us has some areas of learning that come more naturally to us than others. Whatever it is that takes you a little more time to work on, you can do that in your Micro. So if you realize as you’re in your Macro that you need more time to get some of the physics concepts, no problem. One of our teachers will point you to some Micro projects that could help or will help you customize one to make it interesting to you.
Pursue a passion.
- Suppose that you’re really passionate about animal rescue. Maybe you volunteer at a local shelter or your family fosters animals. You could decide to undertake a data analysis project related to the effectiveness of your local shelter’s spay and neuter program that you could then share with the program director.
- Or suppose that you’re deeply passionate about graphic novels, and you’ve been learning to code. Maybe you want to write your own digitally interactive graphic novel. Along the way, you might need to read more graphic novels for inspiration and to learn the techniques of masterful writers. You also might need to level up your coding skills. Maybe you decide to co-author with a friend or two, and you propose this Micro together.