12th Grade - Developing Powers of Synthesis
Developmental Picture of the Student
In the twelfth grade there is synthesis; things come together. Seniors review their education and return to the place where they began as first graders, to the image of the whole, but now with a deeper understanding. Seniors wrestle with questions of identity and purpose as they envision their place in the world. The central question of the year is, “Who…?” (Who am I? Who do I want to become?”) The new experiences of the senior year—travels, senior projects, and internships—encourage the students to answer that inquiry with action.
How the Curriculum Meets the 12th Grader
The year begins with a week-long trip to the coast of Maine to study marine biology with several other Waldorf schools. Students take daily trips to the tide pools and mud flats to investigate sea plants and animals and enjoy evening campfire discussions about the world and their future. In Russian literature, students encounter an unfamiliar culture that mirrors and complements their own. In their study of the Transcendentalists, Emerson’s suggestion that “man is a stream whose source is hidden,” calls on students to explore the complexity of their own humanity.
For modern physics and biochemistry, students take field trips to Fermilab and the Northwestern University Bio-nanotechnology lab, where they observe field research in state of the art facilities and converse with scientists working on the leading edge of their fields. In art, seniors draw and paint each other’s portraits with a subtlety and skill far beyond what they were capable of when they sketched one another in ninth grade.
Seniors are independently motivated and concerned with issues of destiny, judgement and discretion.
Senior Projects are a high point of the year. At the end of the junior year, students choose a topic for independent study or practical work. By the first week of March, they have prepared a comprehensive research paper and artistic project, which they offer in a public presentation to the school. The seniors stand on stage individually, present their topic in a lecture format, and take questions from parents, teachers and fellow students. This is a festive occasion for the whole community as well as an often-poignant rite of passage when the students surpass their teachers; in effect, they become teachers for the whole community as they share a topic about which they are passionate and of which they have expert knowledge.
Following the senior projects the twelfth grade disperses for individual three-week internships in the working world. They return to complete their final two morning lesson blocks and work on their senior play, a farewell gift to the community. The senior year ends with farewell gifts of roses from the first grade at the year’s closing assembly. Finally, graduation day is an opportunity for the whole community to celebrate the seniors and wish them well on their future journeys.
12TH GRADE CURRICULUM: STUDENT BLOCK BOOK & FIELD RESEARCH EXAMPLES
12th graders study specialized topics including electives as they prepare research for their Senior Presentations
12th GRADE CURRICULUM COMPONENTS:
SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS
ART & MUSIC
GYM & MOVEMENT
FIELD TRIPS & COMMUNITY EVENTS
- Marine Biology Trip: One week at Hermit
- Modern Physics & Biochemistry Trips:
- Community Service: Four days throughout
- Eurythmy Trip: Optional, usually two or
- Service Learning: Trips vary; location and