We describe The New School as a unique liberal arts and sciences education, and nowhere is the uniqueness and thoughtfulness of our program more apparent than in the high school. Most notably, high school students choose their classes, rather than follow a prescribed sequence, and teachers and students are on a first-name basis and interact as colleagues. Classes are structured as seminars, rather than lectures, and students and teachers work together to co-create the learning in the classroom. Our graduates emerge as self-reliant, skilled learners, individuals who have a strong sense of self and are prepared to succeed in the colleges of their choice.
The hallmark of the high school is our vibrant and thought-provoking classes. Rather than general classes (e.g., English 9, Chemistry 10, Social Studies 11), students choose from a generous selection of fascinating – what we call “deep-learning” – classes within each discipline (e.g., The Search for Self in Literature, The Chemistry of War, The Art and Science of Dreams). In essence, our curriculum focuses on applied learning and mastery of academic skills, rather than memorization of facts.
At The New School, class content is often framed by a problem-based, or essential, question that calls for higher-order thinking and asks students to apply their learning. Examples of essential questions include What is a just society? (Government), How has the discovery of DNA benefitted modern medicine (Biology). This process of education – students assembling and synthesizing facts to answer an essential question – is what we mean by our mission to “help students learn to use their minds well.”
We believe a special dimension of equality exists in the teacher-student relationship. We celebrate this dimension because it allows students to see themselves as successful and creative learners and individuals. The New School is structured around collegial, good-natured dialogue between teachers and students both in and out of the classroom. The average class size is ten students, and there is 40-minute “Essential Time” each day where students may seek extra guidance from their teachers. Through dialogue with their teachers and accountability for their work, our students learn to advocate for themselves, understand themselves as learners, and take charge of their academic lives.