Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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How does MicroSociety work?

Students create a “community-IN-the-school”, an actual miniature society  run by students where they apply standards “on-the-job” for one period of the day, also known as “Micro” time. There is nothing make believe about it. It’s a power transfer on a small scale. For schools, the day consists of time in the classroom and time when students apply their curriculum in real world activities. The society is neither “virtual” nor imaginary. Students work in real time. They establish businesses, vote, serve on juries, shop, pay taxes, and settle disputes in court! They don’t just learn about the American system of government, they practice it. Depending on available resources, sites adapt their physical spaces to the emerging community. They may build a marketplace with stalls and shops, a courtroom with a judge’s bench and a witness stand and a legislative chamber where laws are made and officers conduct business – all student-sized. Some simply rearrange furniture and use cardboard signs to indicate venture and agency headquarters. Either way, this is a dynamic complex, often surprising and always progressively sophisticated learning environment.

Are there required achievement scores before participating in MicroSociety?

We service all children in the school or out-of-school-time program. No one is excluded.

What is the typical age of MicroSociety students?

MicroSociety students range from two to eighteen years old. The typical profile includes students from kindergarten through ninth grade in public, private, charter, magnet, and alternative schools.

What are the benefits of MicroSociety?

In MicroSociety, students face life, debt and taxes. They have hundreds of opportunities every week to practice being 21st Century workers.  Our cooperative, rigorous esteem-building model elevates American classrooms in many key ways:

Increased Academic Achievement

Typically, MicroSociety has a positive, significant impact on the overall school achievement. Results have been especially remarkable with children who struggle hardest to succeed: those from low-income families, with special needs, and with limited English proficiency.

Improved Behavior and Reduced Violence

Students learn the value of rules and laws when they create, interpret and enforce them within their own authentic society. They also learn empathy and respect for others and hone valuable conflict-resolution skills.

Improved Attitude Toward School

By making school relevant to life and balancing intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, the program re-engages students who had been disinterested in school.

Strengthened Social Emotional Skills

When provided the time and space to self-discover, students boost their EQ. Trying on multiple roles and discovering their niches, confidence rises. With this, comes a trust and reliance on peers. The running of a society allows multiple opportunities for cross-age collaboration. Students learn how to work with those different from themselves in authentic ways that mirror real world interactions.

Reduced Drop-Out Rates

Research shows that boredom is one of the top three reasons children drop out of school. Traditional lectures are boring and ordinary, but MicroSociety makes school interesting and exciting. Most MicroSociety schools see improved attendance in their first month of program implementation because it engages students.

Enhanced Citizenship, Service Learning and Community Engagement

Students learn why voting is important and that demanding ethical decisions of their elected officials is both a right and a responsibility. They witness firsthand the vital role engaged citizens play in a thriving community.

Accelerated Preparation for Careers and Workforce Development

MicroSociety is an incubator for tomorrow’s business, government and community leaders. By linking real-world activities to classroom learning, MicroSociety puts meaningful work into the experience of childhood and helps students develop the skills critical to their success in the 21st century’s global economy, including communication, critical-thinking, decision-making, team-building and taking personal initiative.

Improved Financial Literacy

MicroSociety teaches financial literacy as students buy and sell products in the marketplace, create personal and business budgets, maintain checkbooks, calculate taxes and meet payroll. By facing practical challenges, they strengthen their math skills, come to recognize the value of a dollar and make more informed decisions about their financial futures.

What our Theory of Action?

MicroSociety demonstrates a comprehensive theory of human motivation known as the Self Determination Theory. Our success in promoting student wellbeing and enhanced student learning flows from meeting three psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Student autonomy is reflected by their eagerness to devote time and energy to learning inside and outside the classroom. They are able to meet with competency the challenges of their school work and on the job and they work regularly and effectively with others to whom they feel connected, able to operate from multiple vantage points and appreciate their strengths. Across generations, student experience a sense of belonging and trust. With these three psychological needs met, students develop an intrinsic motivation that is associated with high quality learning and with valuing that learning. With students, teachers, parents, and community mentors working together, a culture of mutual trust becomes a virtuous cycle. MicroSociety is the predicate to learning. It is the broader social, economic and intellectual context that provides the higher purpose necessary for students to want to learn in the first place.

How is impact on students measured?

Success is measured by three sets of indicators:

1. Academic measures in English Language Arts, Mathematics and special education progress

2. Quantitative measures of attendance and discipline.

3. Qualitative measures such as student communication skills, poise, and civil behavior which are readily apparent upon visits to a school with a well-functioning Microsociety environments.

While MicroSociety has sought to broaden the definition of “achievement” in schools, to extend beyond performance on standards-based assessments, it has generated a strong track record of impacting student outcomes, as evidenced through both traditional and non-traditional, measures. See Results for details. Typically, the MicroSociety learning environment elevates student motivation, engagement, academic expectations, civic and social behavior and standardized test scores over time.

3-18 Months:

a. Increased participation in class as students see relevance of content

b. As they understand their role in the world, students demonstrate greater respect for and trust in adults

c. Improved attendance, attitude, behavior, social/emotional skills

18-36 Months:

a. Improved academic results as students connect classroom learning to applications outside of class

b. Heightened work ethic, self-reliance, leadership and autonomy

c. Strengthened critical thinking, problem solving and other 21st Century skills result from daily practice of working in complex, real world situations

36 Months and beyond:

a. Develop commitment to higher education as they understand its relationship to their future

b. Become creators of wealth as they are armed with skills, knowledge and successful work habits

c. Contribute as engaged global citizens because they have practiced it

d. How do children learn ethics, character etc: Second ssentencedelete “emphasizes” so that sentence reads

How do children learn ethics, character and citizenship?

MicroSociety is not just a course but a continuous experience in playing with the building blocks of a modern society. It is applied moral development. Through the “HEART Strand,” community responsibility, service work, volunteerism and reflective activities and discussion are emphasized. Students in MicroSociety receive daily living lessons in citizenship. In the words of a wise student:

 “If you don’t do something in school, it only affects you. But if you don’t do something in Micro, your whole company is affected. If you don’t put the proper entries in the computer, you don’t just hurt the person who owns the bank account, you hurt the whole school.” Mathew, 6th grade, alumnus

How did MicroSociety evolve from one classroom to a movement?
Click here to see a timeline
How does MicroSociety engage the community?

MicroSociety is a tool for breaking down age barriers, decentralizing power and enfranchising local communities. Partner mentors help circulate knowledge between adults and children and support students as they learn to work. Meanwhile, students learn from them not only real world knowledge and skills but through their professional exchanges, they develop an ability to engage with a wide range of people on multiple levels and a new confidence emerges as they test out their ability to network with their social, intellectual, political and economic advisers.

What makes teaching in a MicroSociety environment unique?

MSI redefines the classroom as any organized place where learning occurs. Toward that end, we link classrooms to the city that surrounds the school house by inviting working adults with expertise outside the school house to be adjunct faculty within our schools’ walls. The one period a day, school-wide learning laboratory of MicroSociety began in 1981, long before cyber learning, MOOCS, flipped classrooms, hybrid classrooms, distance learning and learning studios came onto the scene. With this enlarged context for teaching and learning, our teachers assume a larger leadership role than in traditional schools. No longer reliant on scripted lessons, they and their principal lead us away from ability tracking, accommodate for income inequality of parents by enlarging the circle of winners and reorganize the workplace by empowering educators to shift more of the responsibility for learning to students themselves and by embracing community partners in the educational process.

How do students learn differently with MicroSociety?

We find students LOVE TO WORK. They are motivated to master content curriculum and embrace ambiguity because it has application to success in their MicroSociety jobs. Hundreds of times each week, students apply knowledge and skills in key subject areas. They analyze, reason and communicate as they examine, interpret, and solve problems that arise naturally every day as they manage their society. As teachers, peers, parents and community mentors become resources of knowledge they need to succeed in their real world of MicroSociety, students gain a greater awareness not only of their desire to learn but why and how they learn.

What about the cost and funding?

MicroSociety has the potential to develop a skilled and educated workforce at a low cost precisely because it connects students at an early age to marketable knowledge and skills. This early start allows us to make human capital investments instead of repairing disparaged young adults who might either drop out of school or completely lose interest in following their dreams. Our schools report that once MicroSociety has been fully implemented, special needs students join the mainstream, no longer in need of IEP’s, discretionary dollars are saved when violence prevention, bullying programs are discontinued and the need for test prep reduces. Our programs and services are funded through a variety of sources, including private contributions, districts, schools, foundations, Parent Teacher Associations, business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and Rotary and a wide range of state and federal funding streams. On the spectrum of Federal Title Programs, MicroSociety has been approved under Title I, Title III and Title IV, 21st Century Schools; Title V, Innovative Programs, Public Charter Schools, Magnet Schools and Partnerships in Character Education; Title VII, Indian Education; Title VIII; and Safe and Drug Free Schools. Title II is designed to improve the quality of civics and government education and to foster civic competence and responsibility and quality economic education. MicroSociety is a perfect fit for your agency partnerships. Please check the individual guidelines in your state.

How can I enroll my child in c?
While enrollment is typically managed at the local level, we will help you find a MicroSociety in your community and facilitate introductions.

How do I get started?
Contact one of our main offices:

  1. United States: 215-922-4006 or email Chris at
  2. Canada: (403)346-4083 or email us
  3. South America: Email us at