We previously highlighted the GROWTH and Introduction to Arts curriculum and its core role in the ninth grade curriculum in this post
. While these two courses, and the self-exploration that accompanies the content, continue to impact the experience of Proctor's ninth graders, World History, Introduction to Literature, Earth Science or Biology, Algebra 1 or Geometry, a World Language and Learning Skills can round out the ninth grade experience.
Throughout each of these courses, a consistent focus on teaching the foundational skills to be a successful student at Proctor remains central to our mission. An emphasis on comprehension, analysis, synthesis and divergence allows students to understand, digest, and then respond to content as it applies to their lives.
In both the science
departments, ninth graders fall into a range of courses based on prior academic experience, but in each lies a consistent theme, as Algebra 1 teacher Lindsay Brown explains, "Our goal for our ninth graders is to use project based learning
in order to help students have intense exposure to the topics they are exploring. We believe enduring learning occurs for students when in-depth exploration occurs, rather than racing through as many topics as possible during the year."
A similar approach guides the Social Science Department's
ninth grade curriculum. World History teacher Lynne Kenney notes, "Our main theme for our ninth grade curriculum is to discuss and analyze the relationship between an individual and society. We use a variety of different historical situations to teach this theme, but in reality, the content is secondary to the foundational research, reading, writing and critical thinking skills they are learning. The content is a medium through which we can teach these skills."
In both World History and Introduction to Literature, students spend considerable time learning to write effective paragraphs before they are set loose to write essays. While beginning by teaching the proper structure of a paragraph may seem elementary, this foundation is essential to future learning. Introduction to the Arts
, a required ninth grade course along with GROWTH
, not only exposes students to a variety of artistic mediums, but delves into a highly valuable self-exploration and reflection process.
Through all of these ninth grade courses, our goal is to, as Lynne Kenney explained, "Help move students to think outside the box and to think for themselves." This task is clearly one of our greatest challenges, but also one of our most important goals as educators in a world where unlimited content is accessible at the press of a button. To understand how to vet information independent, efficiently and effectively serves our students incredibly well as they mature as learners.
This opportunity to help students think for themselves expands far beyond the classroom. Much discussion occurred during faculty meetings this winter around the process of further developing an overarching ninth grade curriculum that spans social, residential, and academic life at Proctor.
This ongoing process is one that will continue to develop over time as faculty balance an emphasis on the egalitarian underpinnings of Proctor's student culture while providing ninth graders with the structure they need to find success academically, athletically, artistically, and socially at Proctor.