Making Sense of the World
Tenth graders look for their own place in the world around them, and ponder how they fit into it. They seek an understanding of process, of how things emerge, grow and change. Our curriculum addresses such processes through the study of subjects such as development of language, inorganic chemistry, embryology and ancient history, all taught in our innovative three and four week-long intensive block format. As they mature, our tenth graders are encouraged to move beyond black-and-white thinking to more balanced, inclusive thinking. They are able now to see both sides of an argument, and are guided to flexibility of thought and discourse through debate. It is an important sign of intellectual maturity to argue in favor of a proposition one does not actually support.
Our innovative tenth grade program, which takes place within a carefully constructed year-long series of required intensive multidisciplinary immersive three and four week 150 minute long block classes, are augmented by skill-building track and afternoon elective classes.
Tenth graders are often in the throes of an important emotional transition as they begin to “declare independence” from their families, and even from their former selves. We may see extreme hairstyles or clothing as a manifestation of what can be a dark time. Students may take a dim view of themselves and of humanity. Thus it is important that tenth graders encounter ideals and achievements to light their way, and that they be shown a path of balance and equilibrium. A pivotal block is The Odyssey, the story of a great hero who must find his way home, using powers of discernment and creativity, through numerous obstacles. In many ways, the ordeals of Odysseus embody the tenth grade experience – the journey of the young person on her road to adulthood through the tribulations and pitfalls of adolescence. In Kinematics, students focus on Galileo, a scientist who stood by the truth of his own observations in spite of enormous pressure to recant his theories. In Ancient History, students examine the development of the first code of law. Finally, in Art 10, students sculpt clay heads; by balancing the concave and the convex, the human face emerges.
The tenth grade curriculum demonstrates in numerous spheres – both in the world of humans and in the realm of nature – that balance can be achieved through lawful processes and transformation. In this way, tenth graders find their own fulcrums by which to assess and evaluate the world. They learn that in the balancing of opposites, new forms arise, whether in human relationships, tides or chemical compounds.
And in addition to the innovative core block programming, the students’ experience is augmented by our signature programs, which take place in the studios and on stage, as well as in the forests and fields as they learn how to be at home in the wilds of nature, and design, tend to and harvest in our functional garden, learning how to become land stewards for the 21st century.