“Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”--Albert Einstein
In Language Arts the pattern of the Heroic Journey underpins both the analysis of fiction and mythology and the formation of personal connections to characters and universal themes of humanity. With a rich variety of literary works that serve as mentor texts, students explore the craft of writing through careful readings and develop their own writing skills and personal voice. Novels and poetry are chosen to complement the study of the historical periods explored as part of the overall humanities curriculum.
At the center of our study of history is the question of what it means to be human and to participate in society. Our approach is neither teacher- nor student- centered, but rather subject-centered with all members of the community of inquiry engaged in an exploration of central themes in human history. Narrative historical fiction is used to engage students' imagination and begin the process of inquiry, as well as to help them understand perspectives different from their own. Students develop the skills necessary to interpret history--source evaluation; data collection and analysis; and the sharing, exchanging and rethinking of conclusions.
The study of Latin begins with an exploration of the phenomenon of language itself and the recognition that language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. Using The Phenomenon of Language workbook, students use inductive reasoning to determine the grammatical structure of Latin and compare it to English. They learn to memorize vocabulary, to determine the meaning of English derivatives of Latin, and to construct their own sentences in Latin. By mastering the fundamentals of what forms a language and how to acquire a new one, students are equipped with the skills to learn any foreign language and to better understand their own.
Curiosity and exploration are the foundations of our hands-on approach to science. Students learn to plan and carry out independent investigations, including how to formulate their own testable questions, develop hypotheses and predictions, and analyze data and draw conclusions. By observing evidence of scientific phenomena themselves, students connect more deeply to the material and to the process of science.
In mathematics, students build a solid foundation in pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and statistics, with an emphasis on connections to problem-solving situations in everyday life. Working in small groups, students gain practice in explaining their solving strategies to each other and learn to think flexibly about their approach to a problem. In the latter part of the eighth grade year, the curriculum is adjusted as needed for each student to prepare them for the appropriate math course at their chosen high school.