The Pathfinder School: Traverse City Community School

Middle School MIADS

MIADS Strengthen Learning

Knowing that intelligence has many shapes and aspects, Pathfinder Middle School offers MIADs in order to allow students to take elective classes designed to teach toward a particular kind of intelligence. The MIAD program offers choices, such as eco-literacy, personal finance, current issues, formal and informal logic, forensics, clay, comparative religions, cooking, fiber arts, yoga and others. These MIAD classes further the multi-dimensional curriculum throughout the school where all students take visual arts, music, computer technology, physical education and foreign language.

The Pathfinder curriculum is designed to facilitate all forms of intelligence and to allow students to investigate subjects in many different ways, i.e. kinesthetically, visually, musically, through literature or hands-on experimentation. Our goal is to construct curriculum, based on our understanding of brain development, which promotes the growth of a child’s mind as fully and broadly as possible.


(Multiple Intelligence Arts Domain)

“Intelligence is the ability to solve problems or to create products that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”
Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind (1983)

The Pathfinder School embraces the concepts of Multiple Intelligences, developed by the renowned educator and philosopher, Howard Gardner, who contends that all human beings possess eight intelligences in varying amounts: kinesthetic, interpersonal, verbal (linguistic), logical (mathematical), naturalistic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, visual (spatial) and musical. Gardner also asserts that other realms of intelligence many yet be identified; for example, his original theory did not include naturalistic, an area that comprises connection to the natural world—long a key aspect of our curriculum at Pathfinder.

Training at Gardner’s Project Zero program at Harvard University, numerous Pathfinder faculty continue to employ several aspects of the theory of multiple intelligences. We believe that each person has a different intellectual composition, that is, a unique combination of intelligences; that we can improve education by addressing many different intelligences of our students; and that intelligences are located in different areas of the brain, and are thus engaged by a variety of activities.

In the middle school, we also draw upon the work of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Current brain-based educational theory pictures adolescence as a critical time, during which the individual constructs his or her world-view, based on both his or her physical being and immediate environment. The middle school student actively builds his or her understanding of the world by engaging first emotionally with people, and then, having created relationships, moves intellectually to grapple with key concepts and paradigms he or she deems important.

The Pathfinder middle school provides students with enrichment opportunities that will sometimes require them to stretch and take educational risks—and to do so with adults they trust and with whom they are building relationships.

Please be aware that, with these tenets in mind, this year the faculty will make decisions regarding the roster of each class. In other words, assembling the class rosters will be a more complex process than mere ‘first come, first served’. This new policy is to avoid a student taking the same class more than once a year, and ensures that everyone will get a chance to experience all classes and intelligence domains.