9th Grade - Strengthening Powers of Observation
Developmental Picture of the Student
As ninth graders plunge into the changes of adolescence they also enter the realm of abstract thinking. Internal storms conflict with awakening clarity of thought, creating tension, struggle, even revolt. In a year when feelings can be all consuming, freshmen need to be gently directed towards objectivity. The question of the freshman year is “what?” as students practice accurate observation and clear recollection in various contexts. The ninth graders typically embrace high school with an enthusiasm that serves them well as they undertake new challenges.
How the Curriculum Meets the 9th Grader
Ninth grade studies embrace polarity. In physics, the topic is thermodynamics: warming meets cooling. In geography, it’s the clashing continents of plate tectonics. In literature, the defining block is comedy and tragedy, and in history it’s outright revolution—the story of the United States forming as a new nation, establishing its identity and governance.
Students are summoned to exercise powers of exact observation. In the sciences, they must accurately recall experiments and demonstrations; in the humanities they must recount clearly a sequence of events or the nature of a character without getting lost in the details. This focus on powers of observation and exact recollection strengthens the ninth graders’ core academic capacities and hones an essential life skill. It allows students to experience—in the often confusing wealth of phenomena of the world around them—the steady ballast of their own thinking.
In 9th grade curriculum, the students see their inner experiences reflected in the outside world.
Creative challenges are placed before the students in the art blocks. They work within restricted parameters, such as an exclusively black and white color palette, to learn the laws of portraiture and sketch their classmates, or to create and carve linoleum block prints. Copper work requires patience and decisiveness as each student “raises” a bowl and constructs a stand for it.
An important event in the ninth grade is the conclusion of the drama block when students present their scenes to the high school. Although this performance is purposely low key with minimal costumes and props, it is a time for the freshmen to emerge and “be seen” as a class. The all school camping trip in the fall—when seniors welcome freshmen to the high school—is another important social milestone.
In the spring freshmen take a two week trip to Community Homestead, an agricultural community in northern Wisconsin where they meet the challenge of living together and keeping house in close quarters while experiencing the rigorous rhythms of farm work.
9TH GRADE CURRICULUM: STUDENT BLOCK BOOK EXAMPLES
9th graders study the dramatic events of The American Revolution and Civil Rights Movement
9th GRADE CURRICULUM COMPONENTS:
SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS
ART & MUSIC
GYM & EURYTHMY
FIELD TRIPS & COMMUNITY EVENTS
- Agriculture Field Trip: Three days visiting
- Community Service: Four days throughout
- Service Learning: Two weeks at