Middle school is a transitional time for children to become young adults. Children are taught a lot of basic things in elementary school, a lot of facts, a lot of techniques and only a little independent thinking. In order to make decisions later in life a person needs both facts and methods. They learn many facts in school and learn techniques and methods in the classroom and in the schoolyard.
During middle school children grow from curious, relatively blank slates to more independent thinkers with opinions starting to form, at the very same time their bodies are undergoing transformation to adolescence. Often they are learning social interaction while coping with hormonal changes, which makes this time crucial to good development. It can be more frustrating or puzzling than elementary school. Middle schoolers develop opinions about the way things are and may even get strong likes or dislikes about social interaction.
Dealing with adversity and conflict is important in middle school, probably equally as important as learning about historical events and their impact on us today, or learning more difficult mathematical and scientific approaches to solving problems. Getting good grades and scores on tests is important because it demonstrates that learning of the basic tenets adults follow is actually taking place, and that social interaction, which is more intense in middle school, is under control. McKamy shows a very high record of test performance and the kids and parents have expressed a lot of good opinions about it.
In elementary school less emphasis is placed on critical thinking and more on absorbing dates, formulas, methods and key approaches. In middle school it is like you are learning how to get your rowboat across the finish line, while in elementary school you are learning the names of the parts of the boat, the actions that make it go one way or another, and how to navigate. You can't win the race until you can control the boat in the water and know where you want to go, and you can't do that until you have learned rowing. In high school your activities will be directed at strategy, learning which races to enter and how to pull ahead of other boaters or when and how you should. This metaphor will make more sense as you experience school.
In middle school you will have a few more choices of what to study and learn, and you will be given more responsibility to complete assignments. Choices and responsibility are crucial to having a stable and happy life. Yes, it is a little harder, but also a lot of fun.