Developing critical thinking skills is one of the central outcomes of the Waring Humanities Program. Students read, write, and discuss analytically in order to build bridges between the literary and historical worlds that they study and the world that they live in. Students explore literary texts, write persuasive essays, conduct research projects using primary and secondary sources, and address broad literary and historical themes. Students learn to respond analytically, creatively and personally to the works they study. The Humanities Program continually asks students, in one form or another: Why does this matter? How is this literature and history mine? To what extent am I the product of our collective past?
Core (Grades 6 and 7) students study the civilizations of India, China and Africa. Group One (Grade 8) approaches a variety of historical events and literary texts in thematic fashion. Groups 2 through 5 (Grades 9 through 12) study the literature and history of Classical Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe and the Renaissance, Modern Europe, and America from the Colonial period to the present era. While Humanities students spend much of their time studying literature and history, the curriculum also incorporates philosophy, art and music history, comparative religion, anthropology, mythology, the history of science, and current events.
While students learn through lectures, presentations, and performances, roundtable discussion forms the most common classroom experience. These discussions are rooted in primary and secondary source material. While exploring these materials in seminar fashion, teachers and students critically investigate questions and truths about the watermarks of human nature which imprint history and literature: war, love, death, hope. In a single discussion, students might explore a sonnet’s depth and beauty, make connections between the speeches of Classical and contemporary politicians, or follow Dante as he descends into Hell. These committed, impassioned sessions often spill over into every area of Waring life: over lunch, at all-school meeting, and in the bus en route to soccer games.
The study of Humanities forms a rigorous intellectual framework in which students can synthesize their learning and gain a deeper understanding of who they are and where they come from. Such an understanding is the ultimate goal of the Waring Humanities program.