British Romantic Literature Main Lesson
In this main lesson, students are introduced to several major British Romantic poets: Burns, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley. In addition to studying the biographies and major works of these poets, students learn about the ideals and themes of Romanticism, and the social and political upheavals that led artists and intellectuals to reject the values of the Age of Enlightenment. Students create an artistic anthology containing favorite poems by each author, and write poetry and essays on their interpretations of the styles and themes in the primary poetry.
Medieval Literature, Parzival Main Lesson
This main lesson focuses on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s medieval romance, Parzival, the story of the quest for the Holy Grail. The legend gives rise to many modern day parallels and metaphors which address questions juniors often ask. As an experiential component, the class travels to Pennsylvania for a week at the Kimberton Hills Camp Hill Village, a community for developmentally handicapped adults, founded on the social principles of Rudolf Steiner.
English III: Full Year Class
In this course, grammar studies are reviewed with an emphasis on refining writing skills. The literature relates to themes of individualism and self-transformation. Readings reflect the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Romanticism are also studied. A year-long research project on an author of the student’s choice deepens their ability to analyze and discuss literary topics as well as develop skills in citation and critical reading.
Advanced Literature Elective *
This course offers students with a keen interest in literary topics a venue for discussion, research and creative writing. Much of the work involves a coordination between reading primary texts and literary criticism so students develop their own position vis-à-vis a particular work of literature. Such works as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn are complemented with Wayne C. Booth’s The Company We Keep: an Ethics of Fiction. The autobiography might be pursued by reading excerpts from Benjamin Franklin, Vladimir Nabokov or Barak Obama; then writing one’s own life story. The concept of rhetoric might be deepened by discussing two pieces of classical philosophy, The Gorgias by Plato and Aristotle’s The Rhetoric. Narrative genre and technique might be examined in the short stories of James Joyce, The Dubliners, or his novel, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, both works revealing the literary idea of “epiphany” and the “limited point of view.”
Creative Writing Elective *
This course addresses the genres of poetry, playwriting, short story and journalism through a workshop format in which students read their work aloud and learn from one another.
* Not all electives or courses are offered every year.
Medieval/Renaissance History Main Lesson
This main lesson chronicles the rise of Christianity and Islam as world religions, and the interaction between Christians and Muslims. It also examines Europe’s emergence as a distinct cultural area, and the continent’s increasing global predominance in the High Middle Ages and Early Modern period. Other topics covered may include the fall of Rome, Byzantium, feudalism and the Crusades.
Social History Elective
The Social History elective is a discussion based course where students practice sharing ideas, analyzing texts, taking notes, and writing papers. As course reading, students generally work their way through a series of complete social history monographs. Past topics have included the lives of slaves and free blacks; women and public virtue in the antebellum U.S.; the Western frontier; Native Americans; the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities; and gender in peasant society. Each unit concludes with a major writing assessment that challenges students to synthesize ideas from class and readings.
20th Century History Elective
The 20th Century elective is a discussion based course, where students practice sharing ideas, analyzing texts, and writing papers. As course reading, students generally work their way through a series of complete monographs in 20th century history. Past topics have included Gandhi and Indian independence; communism in Eastern Europe; post-Mao and contemporary China; the Cuban Revolution; the industrialization of Japan; World War II; and war and peace in the Middle East. Each unit concludes with a major writing assessment that challenges students to synthesize ideas from class and readings.
Mathematics and Allied Sciences
Introduction to Calculus Main Lesson
This main lesson provides a guided exploration of the exotic borderland where finite and infinite meet. One path is to investigate sequences and series, looking for patterns of convergence. Another is to distinguish structures or procedures with finite, countably infinite, and otherwise infinite elements or steps. A third way is to concentrate on the idea of one-to-one correspondence as the cornerstone or mathematical reasoning about transfinite things. Other essential concepts include counting number (cardinal), neighborhood, rate of change, bound, limit, and, ultimately, derivative. Students also encounter the binomial theorem, the number e, and the rudiments of proofs.
Advanced Geometry Main Lesson
This course introduces the mathematical concept of projection in conjunction with the basic trigonometry of the sphere. One direction emphasizes visual relations, as in perspective drawing techniques and solid geometry principles, while a second emphasizes analytic relations, as in invertible functions and trigonometric ratios. A natural union to these directions is the idea of a map, and the course gradually builds to a twofold exploration of this thought: via the Mercator Projection to get a picture of the entire Earth, and via the Law of Cosines to calculate the distance between any two points on the planet.
Sequences and Series Main Lesson
This main lesson provides an introduction to mathematical reasoning that requires the quantitatively infinite. Sequences, series, and patterns of convergence are the leading ideas, and their gradual development yields new formulas for calculation, new ways to evaluate boundaries, and even new numbers—viz. the all-important constant e. The concept of one-to-one correspondence receives special emphasis in proofs, perhaps most vividly in a comparison of the harmonic series with seemingly related forms. The course usually finishes with a derivation of Binet’s Theorem (yielding the Fibonacci numbers) via an inquiry into recursively defined structures that are equivalently sequences, series, and polynomials.
Math III, Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry and Allied Sciences: Full Year Class
The accelerated 11th grade course in math introduces essential language and techniques for handling elementary functions (polynomial, exponential, trigonometric), and gives special attention to new modes of representation (polar coordinates, complex plane, column vectors). Though abstract structures receive special emphasis, practical manifestations or departures include the calculation of continuously compounded interest, the estimation of a formula for sunrise times of a given locality, and the construction of electrical circuits as an exercise in logic. Undoubtedly, the program is intellectually demanding, but it is not a race to “cover” a set number of topics; instead, the recurring challenge to see one structure as another (e.g. regular polygons as the nth roots of 1) is also both an important manner of review and a first glimpse at the network of higher mathematics.
The standard 11th grade math course works largely with graphing algebraic functions and associated concepts. The beginning of the year focuses on inequalities, circles, and parabolas and the second half of the year includes factoring and graphing polynomials, and analytic geometry as pertains to circles, parabolas, ellipses, and hyperbolas. In addition to this work,the entire eleventh grade comes together to complete blocks on graphing sine waves, using slides rules, and manipulating electric circuits.
Botany Main Lesson
The Botany main lesson is an in-depth look into the world of plants. Students compare plant and animal cells, and identify the characteristics that make plants unique, in particular photosynthesis. The class discusses plant anatomy by examining major taxonomic groups of plants with regard to the order in which they evolved and the structures they developed. Students grow plants, look at slides, observe plants in the park, and make observations during a field trip to the New York Botanical Gardens.
History of Chemistry Main Lesson
The junior History of Chemistry block recaps the development of chemistry from its roots in Greece to the time of John Dalton in the mid-19th century. Although chemistry, as such, did not exist in Greece, two approaches to the world were recognized: the work of the craftsmen who studied the manipulation of natural materials and the production of goods; and the philosophical approach of scholars who studied the world at large. Though the atomic theory of Democritus remained unpopular for two millennia, the philosophy of Aristotle took root and lead to Alchemy. For centuries, alchemists probed the chemical properties and reactions of substances, and developed much of what later evolved into modern chemistry. The History of Chemistry lab takes students back to traditional experiments. Extracting metals from their ores as it was done two thousand years ago leads to the exploration of mass ratios and the development of the Law of Fixed Ratios and the Law of Multiple Proportions. Students also explore the reactions of alchemy and its eventual yield to quantitative chemistry.
Finally, with the advent of Lavoisier and the rise of the British Empire and the Royal Society, modern chemistry and rudimentary atomic theory began to take root. By re-doing and re-evaluating many earlier experiments, the class establishes the precepts through which chemistry has grown. By examining the phenomena themselves and thinking the thoughts of the giants who led science forward, we too determine some of the pathways of substance as it created our world.
The Ecology elective is an opportunity for interested 10th and 11th graders to explore ecology on several levels. The course focuses on the ecology of New York City including ecosystems found in Central Park and the Hudson River. As the year progresses other topics explored include global warming, air and water pollution, and human ecology. Lab activities and Central Park are used as often as possible and much attention is given to current events with regard to ecological issues. Students complete independent research projects each term on a topic related to what is being discussed in class. In addition to research projects grades are based on tests, assignments, and class participation.
Physics Main Lesson: Electricity and Magnetism
In the eleventh grade, students are ready to take up the invisible and intangible phenomena of physics. Juniors cross the conceptual divide between the discrete, solid bodies we studied in tenth grade, to the continuous, immaterial field. Now they are challenged to form an exact understanding of an area of effect detectable only by its influence on other bodies. We consider electric and magnetic fields first separately and then united in the phenomena of electromagnetic radiation.
French Level III
This course focuses on a thorough review of the grammar from levels I and II and the study of advanced grammar and vocabulary. Reading materials include: Suivez la piste, a detective thriller based on a French language television course produced by BBC; the synopsis of the film, Papa, maman, la bonne et moi, and selected chapters from Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. These materials develop the students’ vocabulary, conversational and writing skills through numerous class discussions and written assignments. In the second semester, a substantial amount of class time is dedicated to the students’ preparation for the French language SAT II.
French Level IV
This course promotes a greater knowledge of French culture and language. It aims to further the development of students’ proficiency in speech, writing and comprehension. Students read, discuss, and analyze unabridged modern and classic French novels, French press, watch French films, and write essays based on the material. In addition to the above curriculum and depending on the students’ choice, this course can be used to prepare for the Advanced Placement French language test.
German Level III
German III focuses on reading original texts by German authors, such as J.W. Goethe, Franz Kafka, Ilse Aichinger and Gabriele Wohmann. The majority of the coursework consists of reading, and developing conversational skills. There is usually an oral presentation of an artist and his work. This class deepens the understanding of grammar by learning advanced topics, such as the passive voice and subjunctive. Students write summaries and submit compositions about themes evolving around the texts that are read. The class also prepares for SAT II tests, depending on student’s needs. This class also watches and discusses a German movie.
German Level IV
German IV is geared towards the needs of students to review and deepen grammar. Reading texts include newspaper articles, short stories and novels that are reviewed and discussed orally and in writing; the students also present a basis for essays. The course strives to reach greater fluency in conversation and discussion, and focuses on student’s everyday life, personal interests, and a deepening of his understanding of German culture.
Spanish Level III
The class works with the book and workbooks, activities, grammar and vocabulary, culture and literature in Expresate! Spanish Level III. The goal of this course is to improve technical skills in grammar, thereby increasing fluency in reading, writing, and oral communication. The class reviews grammar covered in Level I and Level II. Systematic acquisition of vocabulary and improvement of listening skills are stressed. Selected cultural and literary texts are examined. Students write summaries and submit their interpretation of certain themes in these stories. Students also work with Spanish idioms and take practice SAT II tests to prepare for the exam. At least one film is shown and one play is seen.
Spanish Level IV
This is an advanced course in Spanish composition and conversation. The course focuses on extensive reading, the enrichment of vocabulary and idioms, and the further development of conversational skills. Students are expected to recognize and discuss the literary merits of highlighted authors and their contributions and influence on Spanish culture. A great deal of emphasis is placed on sentence structure, especially the most difficult points of grammar and usage. Students study the work of Spanish painters and watch various films related to their work and life. Oral presentations are assigned, and at least one play will be seen during the year.
Watercolor and Mixed Media Painting
This course in Watercolor and Mixed Media seeks to develop each individual’s skill with the medium of watercolor, both in terms of color and composition. Students learn to mix paint with the intention of achieving subtle nuances of tone as well as vivid contrasts. Pastel and/or pencil are also available to students who wish to incorporate them into their long-term projects, thus creating a mixed media painting. Students explore form and volume through diversified subject matter.
In Bookbinding, students learn to use materials and tools to make paste paper, and they create a book using these papers for the cover. They fold drawing paper to create four signatures, each consisting of twenty pages, giving their books a total of eighty blank pages. These are sewn to the spine, and the front and back covers are held together with binding tape. This is one of many ways to create a book. Each book is unique; some are made with care and precision, others with great artistic decoration, and a few combine both qualities. The process of bookbinding requires attention to detail and awareness and care of materials, especially keeping paper flat and using glue with precision. Each student’s goal is to create a beautiful and well-crafted book.
This course is designed to give students the opportunity to do one major project in wood or stone. They are given a wide range of choices with respect to material, shape and size, and then challenged to imagine the sleeping forms inherent in the piece of material. The students try to realize their own mental pictures by cutting away and shaping their work. Students in this course use chisels, various rasps, and sandpaper, and develop their skills of gouging. Besides realizing their ideas in a three dimensional form, the students in this class also work to reveal the beauty of the material they have chosen.
Shakespearian Drama Main Lesson
The Shakespearian Drama block provides the opportunity for the 11th Grade to experience the genius of William Shakespeare. The students delve deeply into the texts of his tragedies, not only through reading and discussion, but by preparing scenes and monologues as well. Students are encouraged to find meaning and connection to the characters they portray as they discover qualities about themselves as individuals. An evening performance for family and friends is traditionally connected with this performance art block. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth are among the plays explored by the students in this block.
Eurythmy is a series of expressive movement exercises unique to Waldorf education. In Eurythmy classes, students learn how to bring music and poetry into physical expression, thereby gaining a better understanding of these arts. Eurythmy also teaches dexterity, grace, poise, balance, and concentration.
History Through Music Main Lesson
Beginning in ancient Greece and moving through to the present day, this course explores the development of music through the cultural and historical settings in which it was created. Students listen to a variety of masterworks, discuss and analyze the elements within a given piece in terms of melody, such as Tuvan throat chanting, aboriginal ritual dances, and Japanese Zen monk mantras.
Participation in Chorus for one and a half periods per week is required. Students sing a wide range of music and experience a variety of genres. Self-expression becomes a window into communal music-making and into other cultures. The process of preparing music is as important as the final result; students are graded on their participation in the Thanksgiving, Holiday and Spring Assemblies, and graduation.
Guitar and Fretted Instruments Elective
The goals of this class include playing in time together, sight reading and playing by ear, building up left- and right-hand technique, and caring for the instrument. An even more important aim is to encourage both a regular habit of practice and a willingness to explore music one might not initially prefer. Though fretted instruments are the focus, other string instruments are welcome in the mix. Although the ensemble is principally instrumental, singing with accompaniment happens nearly every week.
Jazz Band Elective
The Jazz Band plays music from standard jazz charts as well as big band and swing arrangements. Students are taught basic jazz theory and improvisational skills and are encouraged to perform solos at each concert. The Jazz Band is frequently featured at school benefit functions, and also performs at assemblies, the annual Spring Concert, and graduation. The Jazz Band meets weekly.
The orchestra plays music from the standard symphonic repertoire. Works from the Baroque through our own era are featured at school assemblies, concerts and various community functions. Music performed in recent years includes Bizet’s Carmen Suite, excerpts from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, and Copland’s Hoedown from his ballet Rodeo. The orchestra meets weekly.
West African Drumming Ensemble, Caribbean Drumming, Brazilian Drumming
These ensembles provide students without prior training an entry point for community music-making. Percussion is taught through imitation, similar to the way young people are taught in an indigenous setting. Students are also exposed to the cultural and ethnic context of the music, and learn the reasons for and meaning of the music. Classes meet weekly and ensembles perform at concerts and assemblies.
Recorder Ensemble Elective
This beginning ensemble provides students with little or no musical training an entry point for group music making. Students learn the fundamentals of pitch, rhythm and notation and learn to play in a group. Although students begin on the soprano recorder, they are also encouraged to pick up alto and tenor recorders to learn the various qualities and challenges of each instrument. The advanced ensemble is for students with prior recorder training who wish to advance their skills.