Reading and writing, thinking and discussing, practicing and revising, memorizing and implementing. These are all elements of our Humanities program, and each semester we use these methods to help us towards completing a project (called an “expedition”) that has relevance, meaning and challenge.
Rather than offer a class for literature, another for history, and another for writing, our Humanities program ties many connected subjects into one holistic end product.
Subjects included in this program
- Social studies
- Language arts
In the Humanities program social studies guides the content of each class. We look at lessons, patterns and major ideas from history. The human condition offers rich opportunities for colloquia, simulation, and projects, and we build classes that dive deep into questions and circumstances that beg to be understood.
Language arts elements are woven throughout the curriculum. Reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing are essential to understanding the humanities. Students’ ability to fluently speak, write, listen and read are honed through practice, and through projects specifically designed to draw attention to these things.
Literature is a staple that offers insight into the humanities, and also helps students refine their language arts skills. We use literature that is worth reading and re-reading; we frequently choose texts that have withstood the test of time, and when we find excellent recent literature that also becomes a class staple.
In each Humanities class we emphasize the education of the whole person, including the education of the senses. We utilize art as one of the great ways to develop the refinement and discernment of the senses.
Memorization through song and rhyme is utilized throughout each term. Students become fluent in rhythm and meter, gain confidence with speaking, and become more attentive listeners.
Relevance, challenge, meaning
Each of these subjects are woven into one cohesive expedition. Expeditions are chosen based on topics that
- have relevance to youth
- are rich with historical lessons
- offer a unique challenge that students have a high incentive to complete
- and have a meaningful end product.
The path to the end product is student-driven; students, with the assistance of a mentor, identify compelling questions, brainstorm necessary steps for completion, choose deadlines, gather materials and develop skills essential to completing the end product.
End products are chosen before the semester begins by the mentor, and are based on meeting real needs of authentic audiences. Frequently these end products offer opportunities for service learning. Through this process, students see the real-life impact of their studies. They begin to see how they are connected to family, community and national events; and they develop skills and knowledge they can build on in future classes as they become aware of their natural gifts and learning inclinations.
Macro & micro perspectives
This process is inside-out and outside-in. We look at both the internal and external driving factors behind learning and leadership. We analyze history on a macroscale (what was happening world-wide in the 19th Century?) and microscale (what did Churchill do in his youth that later augmented his leadership capacity?) We connect our personal lives to our reading and writing, our talents and interests to the end product. The result is something truly excellent, and deeply inspirational.
How it works
Live class interaction
- Humanities Class (50 min x 2). Students meet twice a week with their Humanities mentor in classes with 20-35 students. We discuss classics that have changed the world, we share ideas and questions, and we work together towards a meaningful project that has real-life implications.Weekly project buffets are introduced, and students report and successful projects. We learn about men and women who have asked big questions and done big things; we combine our energy and our insight and come to our own answers about the questions we share.
- Writing Seminars – (30 min x 2 month) Held the first and third Wednesday or Thursday of each month immediately after Humanities Seminar. We share our writings, inspire each other as writers, and develop a solid foundation in writing through studying grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Individual work outside of class
In addition to class, students spend time outside of class reading and working on projects and assignments.
2013 – 2014 Humanities curriculum outline
Fall Humanities expedition: History of the Americas
Students will explore and practice principles of giving and living well as they study about the rich history that surrounds us in Central and South America, and the governments and movements that have shaped those countries.
Overarching guiding questions: How is a history of the Americas related to me, and where and how I live today? How has the history of the US been shaped by its neighbors, and how has it shaped the history of its neighbors?
Here is a downloadable list of all texts used in the 2013-14 school year:Texts for 2013-14
Term One Humanities Curriculum Outline - History of the Americas & Current Events
Term Two Humanities Curriculum Outline – US History & Current Events II
Overarching guiding questions: What are my personal academic strengths and weaknesses, and how can I prepare for greater academic challenge? What does it mean to be a citizen scholar? How can I share what I have learned in a meaningful way?
Winter Humanities expedition: Citizen Scholar Challenge
All classes will include supplemental projects and optional readings.
For additional details on the 2013-14 Humanities expeditions, click here.