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High School


Discover the World.
Discover Yourself.
The world is your classroom.

Your capacity for learning will expand through our high school curriculum. Our integrated, multi-modality, experiential learning environments encourage individuality, imagination, creativity and hands-on involvement. Collaborative relationships between faculty and students, and among peers allows for richness in the academic, social and personal realms of the high school experience. Our faculty is inspired, passionate and involved and our small classes allow teachers to be engaged and accessible to each student. Our students are compassionate and respectful of each other, of the faculty and of the community.

The teenage years are a time of questions. High School students ask:

  • What can I learn from the world around me?
  • How has the world around me come about?
  • Why does injustice exist?
  • Who do I need to become to make a difference in the world?

Students move from the concrete world of observational comparisons into the critical world of conceptual analysis and synthesis. A new questioning about life and the personal search for truth mark the beginning of the high school years.

Our high school curriculum is designed to give young people resources for their inner journey of development. What was earlier approached through imagination and pictures is now approached through analytical thinking. What was experienced with great intensity of feeling can now be reexamined with newly awakened faculties of personal judgment and critical thought.

High School students have a need for increased independence and for a deeper and more detailed understanding of the topic of study. Subject specialists lead the students through a rich and varied array of main lessons. A team of advisors guides each class, monitoring personal and social progress, coordinating class activities, and serving as liaisons between school and home. Each student has an academic advisor who helps shepherd academic progress throughout high school.

Together, teachers and students observe and consider phenomena in a shared quest for truth and self-knowledge. The science and math curricula train students’ capacities for clear thinking and observation to enable them to judge what is true. The humanities allow the students to apply their newfound thinking capacities to moral questions as well as to quests for meaning, freedom and individuality. The arts provides balance and develop powers of observation, while also allowing content to be experienced through other parts of their being, not just through the intellect. Each year includes a practicum and a pedagogical trip.

High school students have the opportunity to participate in our international exchange program, spending several months attending classes at one of our partner Waldorf schools in Spanish and German speaking countries.

Curriculum

The High School at Kimberton provides a rich, rigorous, academic experience for students in grades nine through twelve. Teachers craft experiences which sharpen students’ growing intellectual capacities and strengthen their powers of judgment, while students take on more responsibilities for their own education.

Ninth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
History

  • Revolutions in the Modern World
  • 20th Century History
  • History through Art

Literature

  • Tragedy/Comedy
  • Moby Dick

Science

  • Chemistry: Overview of Organic Chemistry
  • Physics: Heat and Engines
  • Physiology: Nerve-sense, Endocrine, Exocrine Systems
  • Geology: Dynamic Earth Processes, Seafloor, Morphology and Plate Tectonics Theory

Mathematics

  • Combinations and Permutations

Agriculture

  • Two-week practicum
Algebra I or II
English Workshop
Foreign Language
Health
Physical Education
Music
Orchestra
Eurythmy
Arts
Drawing
Drama
Handwork
Gardening
Blacksmithing
  • Strengthening Powers of Observation
  • Seeing their inner experiences reflected in the outside world

Developmental Picture of the Student
The awakening capacities for intellectual thought and objective judgment are very noticeable as students enter the high school. There is a new force taking root in the developing individual – a greater consciousness of the separateness of the inner, personal world and the world outside of the self. Developing and deepening an understanding of the distinction between self and world is the central theme of the high school years.

In the ninth grade there is a desire to reach out and meet the world directly, and to discover the world through observation. The ninth grade student perceives the strong contrasts and polarities inherent in the world, and responds with great enthusiasm to subjects that help to identify these contrasts. This reflects the students’ growing consciousness of the polarity between self and world. The ninth graders typically embrace high school with an enthusiasm that serves them well as they undertake new challenges.

As ninth graders plunge into the changes of adolescence they also enter the realm of abstract thinking. In a year when feelings can be all consuming, freshmen are gently directed towards objectivity.

How the Curriculum Meets the Ninth Grader
The curriculum meets these inner developments by focusing on the physical, outer world. Five of the year’s main lessons take up this theme directly: physics, chemistry, number theory, physiology, and the agricultural practicum. The other main lessons seek to show how human culture (the inner world) has fitted itself into this dynamic physical world: tragedy and comedy, revolutions in the east, 20th century history, history through art, and Moby Dick.

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 their thinking.

Ninth grade studies embrace polarity. In physics, the topic is thermodynamics: warming meets cooling. In geography, it’s the clashing of continents of plate tectonics. In literature, the defining block is comedy and tragedy, and in history they study the polarity of good and evil, and the contrast between eastern and western cultures. In art, creative challenges are given as the students explore black and white drawing and the comparison between beauty and ugliness. In mathematics, curved and straight lines are compared, as well as rational and irrational numbers.

Outdoor education includes environmental studies, a backpacking trip around geology and a week-long internship on an organic farm. Foreign language continues to focus on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and writing. Human anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, algebra, blacksmithing, handwork, movement, chorus and orchestra, as well as electives and community service are all a part of the ninth grade curriculum.

Tenth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
History

  • Ancient World History
  • U.S. Government

Literature

  • History through Poetry
  • The Odyssey

Science

  • Chemistry: Inorganic
  • Chemistry: acids, bases, salts
  • Physics: Mechanics
  • Astronomy
  • Physiology: Circulatory, Respiratory, Reproductive Systems
  • Geology: Weathering, Erosion, Environmental Studies

Mathematics

  • Conic Sections
  • Geometry: Golden Number, Sequences, Spirals

Artisan

  • Two-week practicum
Geometry/Advanced Geometry
Computer
English Workshop
Foreign Languages
Music
Orchestra
Eurythmy
Arts
Drama
Painting
Clay
Woodworking
Gardening
Handwork
Blacksmithing
  • Developing Powers of Comparison
  • Achieving balance through process and metamorphosis

Developmental Picture of the Student
While the theme of the ninth grade is objectively meeting what exists in the physical world, the tenth grade year is focused on process and how the world has come about.

A corresponding theme of the tenth grade is the concept of balance. At this stage of development, the adolescent is challenged with beginning to see connections between extremes that are part of the spectrum. They are able to move beyond fixed polarities, discover connections, and come to recognize the possibility of transformation over time. Where the ninth grader may see things as “either-or,” the tenth grader can see that things can be “both this and that.”

From an understanding of the extremes, the tenth grader is challenged to figure out how to move forward in their thinking and understanding of the world around them.

The sophomore year can be a challenging time inwardly; sometimes labeled “puberty of the soul” that reflects the tenth grader’s emotional transition. Students may experience a somewhat bleak assessment both of themselves and of the human condition. It is important that tenth graders encounter ideals and achievements to light their way.

How the Curriculum Meets the Tenth Grader
In physics, students discover principles of motion in the study of kinematics. In earth science they work with complex yet predictable patterns of weather and climate.

The study of US government explains how our current government was developed and how it works in our public life together. The study of ancient history explores the foundations of our culture. Three main lesson blocks explore ancient history from different angles: ancient history, the Odyssey, and history through poetry.

Drama in the tenth grade year focuses on ancient Greek drama and the “wrestling” between gods and humans and the tragic stories of heroes and villains. History through poetry investigates the transformation of self-expression. Physiology explores the circulatory system, its interrelationship with other bodily systems and the balance of extremes found within each of us. Chemistry looks at acid and bases, equilibrium and balance. Conic Sections explores the transition between geometric extremes and how they can be viewed from different perspectives.

As students discover balance and lawfulness in natural and human phenomena – and as they exercise their powers of comparison – they find their own fulcrums to assess and evaluate the world. They learn that in the balancing of opposites, new forms arise, whether in clouds, tides, or chemical compounds.

The art blocks expand the students’ abilities to compare, contract, and interpret visual phenomena. In painting, students return to working with color, but now through color theory: the laws of how colors work together. In english main lessons and track classes, students compare and contrast themes from the Odyssey, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, and Siddhartha. Students participate in a one-week artisan/entrepreneurial practicum internship as well as a week-long canoeing and backpacking trip in conjunction with the Odyssey Main Lesson.

In tenth grade, many students take advantage of the foreign exchange program and spend a semester studying in a Waldorf school in a German or Spanish speaking country. The tenth grade class is also enriched and enlivened by visiting international students from partner schools in our foreign exchange program.

Eleventh Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
History

  • Medieval History/Dante
  • History of Music
  • African History
  • U.S. Civil War History

Literature

  • Parzival
  • Hamlet

Science

  • Chemistry: History of Chemistry, Atomic Theory
  • Physics: Electricity, Magnetism
  • Biology: Botany, Embryology

Mathematics

  • Projective Geometry, Surveying, Pre-Calculus

Social Service

  • One or two-week practicum
Algebra II / Pre-Calculus
English Workshop
Foreign Languages
Music
Orchestra
Eurythmy
Arts
Drama
Painting
Handwork
Sculpture
Woodworking
Physical Education
  • Honing Powers of Analysis
  • Open-ended questions and taking responsibility for important work

Developmental Picture of the Student
In eleventh grade, students are becoming more independent in thinking and action. The ability to think more analytically arises and students begin to look inward. Existential questions begin to arise: “Where are we going?” “What really matters?” “What is the point of everything?” The main inner question of the 11th grader is “Why?”

Students learn to live with open-ended questions and begin the long path towards answers that may not be what they expect. This is a fiercely idealistic age. Individuals feel the call to find their own path in life and some may wish to make serious changes.

How the Curriculum Meets the Eleventh Grader
As maturity of thought arises, the curriculum adapts to meet the student at this stage of development. Literature blocks tend to look inward while history, science and social service pull students out of themselves and into the world, yet in all of the blocks existential questions are prevalent. The balance helps students find the relevance of their inner questions while developing a relationship to the world around them.

The literature blocks support students in this exploration of new thinking and their inner questioning. In their study of Parzival, they learn of his individual journey and experience their own inner journey. The class spends one week off campus doing group social service projects. They experience an intense week of working together for the benefit of others unknown to them. The students’ inner questions arise in discussions and have a chance to mature and deepen through the act of service.

In English class, the students write an I-Search paper, a research study of a topic that they perceive is helping to shape them into the person they are becoming. Students have to self-reflect and combine this with an outward, objective study of the topic. Projective geometry takes students from the most central point to the farthest periphery of infinity. Botany and embryology deal with the inner development of the plant and the human being through scientific objectivity. Students study electricity and magnetism, elements and atomic theory, economics, Algebra and pre-calculus, civil war, African history, medieval history, and Dante, Hamlet, Frankenstein and Steinbeck. Arts include woodworking and bookbinding, sculpture and drama, orchestra and painting.
Students participate in sports, eurythmy and electives.

In all, the curriculum is designed so that the students’ inner questions go beyond themselves. Inward, independent thinking is met with the requirement for outward action. At an age where students can become overly inward and self-involved, they can begin to see that they are not alone and that their individual questions have something universal about them. Their inner journeys can in fact connect them to other individuals, society and the world. As in the journey of Parzival, individuality develops and students learn to meet others with respect. Out of this experience, a concept of community can arise.

Twelfth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
History

  • Modern World History
  • History through Architecture

Literature

  • American Transcendentalists
  • Russian Literature
  • Goethe’s Faust
  • Senior Play

Science

  • Chemistry: Quantum Chemistry
  • Physics: Optics
  • Biology: Zoology, Evolution

Career Elective

  • Two-week practicum
Calculus
Topics in Mathematics
Senior Seminar
Foreign Languages
Arts
Woodworking
Painting
Handwork
Drama
Computer
Eurythmy
Music
Orchestra
  • Developing Powers of Synthesis
  • Independently motivated and concerned with issues of destiny, judgment and discretion

Developmental Picture of the Student
“Who am I?” is the question that stands before seniors as they journey through the final year that culminates their Waldorf Education. Seniors wrestle with questions of identity and purpose as they envision their place in the world.

Every step, from kindergarten through eleventh grade, has consisted of traversing new terrain and making discoveries along the way. Having reached the highest point in their travel, the twelfth grader can look out over this vast panorama, survey these years of their education, and draw together the common threads.

The capacity to synthesize is finally available in the twelfth grader, and the twelfth grade year brings varied opportunities for students to achieve a sense of their own potential to weave out of their twelve years a dynamic whole.

How the Curriculum Meets the Eleventh Grader
The senior begins to perceive who they are in what is reflected back out of the rich content of such blocks as the modern world, Faust, history through architecture, zoology, the transcendentalists and the challenging, unique features of the senior year.

The year begins with a weeklong trip to the coast of Maine to study marine biology with students from several other Waldorf schools. They take daily trips to the tide pools and mud flats to investigate sea plants and animals and they enjoy evening campfire discussions about the world and their future. In the spring, students experience a solo adventure while they study the American transcendentalists.

The elective of a Senior Seminar provides an opportunity for students to stretch their academic experience, while the optional senior project and mandatory career elective practicum bring the students into the world in ways that help them discover who they are and what they can bring out of themselves to give to the world. For the senior project, students stand on stage individually, present their topic in a lecture format, and take questions from parents, teachers, and fellow students. This can be a poignant rite of passage, as the students become teachers as they share a topic about which they are passionate and of which they have gained expertise.

Senior year culminates in Waldorf Week where seniors are given an overview of their education and insight into the interconnections of the twelve years. A Validation Circle brings to the foreground the answer to question of the senior year: Who do my classmates see me to be? Through the positive reflections of their classmates and advisors, students can venture into the world with strength and confidence.

 

Handbook

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410 West Seven Stars Road
Phoenixville, PA 19460

Mailing Address:
PO Box 360
Kimberton, PA 19442
admissions@kimberton.org