Adolescents change rapidly over the four years of high school, becoming more capable and more mature. They are on a quest to seek their own identity and to search for their future path. Their thinking expands into new dimensions while they deepen self-awareness and understanding of the world. This development of consciousness is intentionally nurtured in the Waldorf high school both through the timing of academic subjects and the teacher’s approach.
In ninth grade, the contrast of polarities stimulates the development of abstract analytical thinking. The 9th graders want to know what is in the world around them, and they analyze it through contrasts like hot/cold, black/white, and good/bad. Their world is one of polarities, which is addressed in the curriculum through classes in Thermodynamics, Black and White Drawing, and Comedy and Tragedy.
In tenth grade, studying processes reveals the kinship of inner experience with the world’s diversity. Students begin to explore how the world has come to be as it is. They seek an understanding of process, of how things grow and transform; students want to integrate their inner experiences with the world’s diversity. The Waldorf curriculum addresses such processes through the study of Mechanics and Ancient Civilizations.
In eleventh grade, the awakening of conscious identity enables a growth from analytical to imaginative thinking. With a growing capacity for self reflection and self knowledge, they begin to ask, “Who am I?” While reading Hamlet and Parzival, two classics about findng one’s destiny, students have the opportunity to consider their own paths in life. The students are moving from analytical thinking to imaginative thinking.
Finally, in twelfth grade, striving to gain a world consciousness promotes synthetic thinking as students begin to envision themselves as active in the world. The seniors connect deeply with the world and its developments as they begin to see their own emerging places in the world. This understanding of self culminates in the Senior Project as well as plays and fieldtrips that often happen before graduation. The curriculum leads them into the world with new insight as they study Evolution, American Transcendentalism, and Economics.