Offsite Learning a Hallmark of Maguire’s Classes

Jack Nelson, Staff Writer

There’s been a longstanding legend at SHS that you can’t truly graduate until you’ve taken a Mr. Maguire class.  As the epitome of fun through learning, there’s no class at SHS quite like one taught by science teacher Steve Maguire.  Whether it’s the running “guidance” response, daily walks outside, or debating the spontaneous attendance questions, the Maguire experience gets students engaged in a way like no other.

One of the staples of Maguire’s classes is the occasional offsite–when students from the class leave the SHS campus and meet Maguire at one of Scituate’s many fascinating ornithological, meteorological, or astronomical locations.  The purpose of each offsite is to get out in the field and observe how the material you’re learning in class applies to the real world. From Maguire’s perspective, offsite experiences are essential: “To me, it’s a gamechanger of the class.  It builds on the content of what we do in class and literally changes the entire interface of the class. If we didn’t do them, it would be a much different experience.”

Students are reminded that offsite learning is a unique opportunity not to be wasted on technology. Maguire explained, “I try to stress it to be immersive, and people are pretty good about it.  I’ll ask people to stay off their phones, which is incredibly important to me. You can take 40 minutes and be off your phone, just to experience more of what’s going on outside.”  

Although Scituate’s iconic lighthouse would seem like the ideal destination for each class, a variety of places around town are visited. According to Maguire, “It varies all the time, particularly given what the class is.  We go to all the beaches, Widow’s Walk sometimes, there’s really a ton of different ones.”

Scituate is known mostly to the country as the prime location for storms to batter the East Coast, but the town’s intriguing location extends farther than that.  As someone who knows Scituate in and out, Maguire recognizes that the town’s geographical location and orientation is a huge advantage for offsite learning: “We have a really unique geography, we have an incredible place to bird, a variety of habitat, those are all important,” he said.

Make no mistake, offsite experiences are all about class topics in the real world, but Maguire also uses them as a method of supporting students’ well-being.  When it comes to the offsite takeaways, he wants students “not to worry” about grades and “to enjoy the experience more.”

When Maguire first started taking students offsite, the intention for each class had a simple and good-natured premise.  Seven years later, this style of teaching has succeeded mightily and it will continue for years to come.