The integrated Humanities curriculum is a key component of the Adolescent Program. It is comprised of courses in History, Literature, and Philosophy. Many of the themes and ideas discussed in one of these curricular areas is designed to relate directly to academic experiences in other portions of the Humanities curriculum and other academic disciplines. In addition to promoting mastery of a core of knowledge, emphasis is also placed on the examination of issues of community, self-identity, cultural diversity, inter-generational communication, and individual responsibility within the context of a greater society.
The History curriculum explores the experience of our nation as it emerges as a world power. Through considering historical events of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries students address issues of national responsibility in a world community, the importance and difficulties of maintaining peace, and questions of personal responsibility in a volatile world. Adolescents in our community also engage in the exploration and critical analysis of current events and participate in seminars devoted to the discussion of real world issues.
Classes involve both seminar discussions of readings and student presentations. Assignments include questions sets to guide students through a text, comparative essays, research projects, creative writing, oral and visual presentations and poster projects.
Clear thinking, precise oral and written communication, exceptional reading and comprehension skills, and a life-long love of reading and words stand as the objectives for the adolescents in their study of literature. In this interdisciplinary approach, students build their skills in several areas: reading; creative and factual writing; grammar; spelling and vocabulary; and critical appreciation and understanding of literature, from both thematic and technical perspectives.
Students develop analytical skills and appreciation of ideas through exposure to complex literary works representing all of the major genres (novel, drama, poetry, non-fiction, short story). Literary works that students read during the year are selected based upon the topics being discussed in other areas of Humanities. Technical aspects of style, as well as the vocabulary and methods of literary analysis are among the topics considered. Students are also pushed to move beyond the consideration of concrete aspects of literary analysis to identify and discuss thematic material, symbolism and the philosophy underlying great literary works. The students enrich their personal and intellectual vision by experiencing the keen observations of master writers and discussing the issues that are addressed in the various works presented. Writing assignments flow from these studies.
Philosophy is offered to the entire Middle School learning community, and consists of a contemplative and personal exploration of the essential nature of philosophical thought, both Western and Eastern. The curriculum is presented as a two-year cycle, with one year focused on an outward perspective, examining the history of philosophical thought in history. The alternate year turns its focus inward, encouraging a journey of self-discovery and the development of a set of personal beliefs and vision.
The Middle School science program offers students opportunities to be knowledgeable stewards of the Earth. Emphasis is placed on the role of humans in the ecology of the planet, and the question of how we can use our knowledge of Earth and Environmental Sciences to shape sustainable cultural practices and technologies.
Students integrate aspects of Earth Science in studying the Earth as a whole, and as a system of interconnected physical features and living organisms. Investigations of Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy and Environmental Science are informed by studies of physics and chemistry as well as biology and ecology. Inquiry-based laboratory investigations, following both teacher-generated and student-generated questions, provide an important basis of work. Assigned readings from a variety of sources supplement students’ growing understanding of Earth processes and Earth’s history.
Second-year students with proven academic standing are offered the opportunity to work towards preparation for the Earth Science Regents exam administered every June.
The mathematics curriculum is to foster both a conceptual understanding and an appreciation for the power and usefulness of mathematics in a variety of applications across a wide range of contexts. The program has two components: mastery of basic mathematical skills and the opportunity to use those skills to problem-solve in real world situations.
The Spanish curriculum is designed to promote skill acquisition in four areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students who have satisfied the requisite curriculum have the opportunity to take a final exam which demonstrates mastery of Spanish I and earns students a high school language credit.
The Latin curriculum is designed to offer a thorough introduction to the study of Latin at the high school level. Students gain experience in reading Latin texts of increasing complexity. They study the relationship of Latin roots to English derivatives and review English grammar as they develop a mastery of Latin forms and syntax. Students who have excelled in their studies may take a Proficiency exam in Latin with the potential to earn a high school foreign language credit.
Students explore a variety of media including paint, pastel, clay, plaster and wood. The curriculum ranges from the fine arts of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture, to such crafts as bookbinding, gingerbread house construction, ceramic musical instruments and appliqué fabric work. A number of projects during the two-year curriculum may relate to class studies in humanities, science, health or math.
Over the course of the two-year Adolescent program, students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of health-related issues particularly relevant to their age-group. These include decision-making; relationships; drugs, alcohol and smoking; mental health and mental illness; reproductive anatomy and sexuality.
Every Friday concludes with our one-hour music class and chorus rehearsal. The chorus is a performing ensemble that studies and prepares literature arranged for adolescent voices, in a variety of languages. Students develop their own singing technique through vocal exercises and ensemble singing. Accompaniment opportunities are available for a variety of instrumentalists.
Throughout the school year, students listen and respond to eclectic recordings. Instrumental music is made during the school day in our basement music studio. Weekly small-group lessons are scheduled outside of class time, and impromptu chamber music sessions are frequent.
The Physical Education curriculum strives to meet the needs of the adolescent by developing an atmosphere in which all students can participate to the best of their physical ability, while fostering a life-long sense of personal physical fitness and appreciation of the joys and benefits derived from physical activity. Students in the Adolescent Program are introduced to a variety of team sports, personal fitness, and the concepts of competition and cooperation.