For decades, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche dreamed of establishing schools for young children that would use Buddhist wisdom to enhance modern education. The first of these, the Middle Way School, was established in upstate New York in 2018 after years of consideration and planning. Its pedagogy and school culture draw upon foundational Buddhist teachings and traditions as well as the latest research in child development, neuroscience, and technology.
A constructivist, inquiry-based, progressive program for students aged 3 to 12, the Middle Way School is recognized by the New York State Department of Education and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
While Middle Way Education (MWE) develops, sources, and consolidates resources for early childhood Buddhist education, the Middle Way School puts them into practice. For example, the school has adopted MWE’s “three spheres” approach to modern Buddhist education. The first of these spheres, Dharma, is the heart of Buddhist education and is the only constant of the three spheres. The second, Education, depends on state regulations and requirements. And the third, Electives, varies according to the wishes of the school and its students. Middle Way School embodies the three spheres by being grounded in Buddhist philosophy, meeting New York state education requirements, and supplementing its curriculum with a focus on the natural environment.
The Buddha taught, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.” Middle Way School cultivates its students’ ability to discern and find the truth themselves rather than being swayed by circumstance or public opinion. Holding space for fun and creativity, the curriculum is designed to build critical thinkers with kind hearts. Promoting the qualities of confidence, discipline, compassion, and decency, the Middle Way School hopes to serve the broader community with the example of its students, staff, and graduates.