Nestled in a tight, verdant valley in Malibu Canyon just a few short miles east of the beaches of Malibu, the MUSE School is a small private school with a focus on “passion-based learning.”
The school launched in 2005 with 11 kindergarten and first grade students in a one-room schoolhouse on the grounds of a former summer camp in Las Flores Canyon. It has now grown to a PreK-12 school on two campuses, serving 200 students.
The high school will graduate its first class of 10 students in the spring of 2017.
We asked middle and high school director Dennis Campbell how MUSE incorporates whole mind, whole body, whole heart and whole engagement into every aspect of its program. His answer was succinct.
“How could you not?”
After a pause, he continued: “Learning is ubiquitous. It’s not the sole province of a brick and mortar building. We want students to think about and discover what they’re passionate about. That’s the lever.”
MUSE’s mission is "Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Live Consciously with Themselves, One Another, and the Planet." Its academic program rests on five pillars:
Core academics, tailored to studies on topics developed by each student.
Communication, using the Process Communication Model (see the Whole Heart section), a tool that helps individuals observe and understand their own behavior and that of others.
Passion-based learning, connected with core academics to help students learn at “a deep and meaningful level.”
Self-efficacy, which MUSE defines as developing the ability to be open, resourceful, and persistent.
Sustainability. MUSE is a 100 percent pant-based school, which director Jeff King describes as “beyond vegan.” The school grows much of its own food and generates electricity on the elementary campus using huge, sunflower-shaped solar collectors, which are works of art in and of themselves.
MUSE also has a robust outdoor education program. Through the lens of self-efficacy (being open, resourceful, and persistent), the school urges students to challenge themselves physically and emotionally during overnight or multi-day trips (depending on age) to places like Death Valley and Joshua Tree.
More than many schools we’ve visited, MUSE embraces all of the Compositive domains, and integrates them to great effect. Read on for more detail on how MUSE make this happen.