Humanities

The Humanities program in grades 9–11 combines the study of literature, history, philosophy, culture and art history in a three-year, chronological sequence. These double-credit courses meet state requirements in both English and history. Classes meet nine times each week in lectures, small-group discussions and writing conferences with three to four students. The courses are reading and writing intensive. Readings for each topic are taken from primary sources, historical scholarship and from the great literature of or about the period under study. The Humanities program develops higher-order thinking skills by asking students to synthesize concepts and facts from history and to apply them to current situations. The main tool for this exercise is writing—expository and creative—which is required after every major book, topic or idea. Personal responses and oral presentations are also a part of these courses.

9th Grade

Humanities 9 launches a three-year sequence. Trimester 1 lays the foundation for the study of cultural history by examining the basic elements of society (political, economic, social, religious, and artistic/intellectual) and studying mythological archetypes from a variety of world cultures. Trimester 2 begin the chronological study of world history and culture that will continue through the 11th grade. Trimester 3 begins with "the World in 1500." Ninth graders study world history from ancient civilizations through the early 16th century.

Literary texts from and about these periods include:
Lord of the Flies, Gilgamesh, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, The Canterbury Tales, The Inferno, Othello, The Secret History of the Mongols, Siddhartha, and TheTang Poets.

ESL students are enrolled in Humanities 9-ESL, which parallels Humanities 9. They join Humanities 9 students for presentations and projects when appropriate.

10th Grade

Using the framework of the basic elements of society, Humanities 10 continues the study of cultural history with a focus on the 18th and 19th Centuries. Major topics include the Enlightenment, Independence and Industrial Revolutions, Romanticism, the U.S. Constitution, Civil War and slavery, Darwin, Marx, Freud, 19th Century Arts, Westward Expansion and Imperialism.

Literary studies from and about these periods will include:
The Crucible, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Narrative of Frederick Douglass, A Doll’s House, Beloved and Heart of Darkness.

ESL students are enrolled in Humanities 10-ESL. Throughout the year, students in this sheltered section are mixed regularly with students from other sections of Humanities 10 for presentations, projects, and discussions.

11th Grade

Humanities 11 continues the study of the basic elements of society with a focus on the 20th Century. Major topics include World War I, the Depression, Totalitarianism, the Holocaust, World War II, the Cold War, Post Colonialism, and Liberation Movements. This course has both a strong US and a strong global focus.

Literary texts from and about these periods include:
Their Eyes Were Watching God, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Great Gatsby, Darkness at Noon, Night, Jump, The Bridegroom, and Ten Little Indians.

Eleventh grade International students may be enrolled in a sheltered section of this course designated Humanities 11-Transitional.

12th Grade

In their senior year, Northwest students choose their course of study in the HUM 12 Social Studies and Writing and Literature tracks. They take yearlong elective seminars in social studies courses such as: East Asia and the Modern World, Race and Gender, Political Protest and Popular Music, Social Justice, Religion and Society, or The Invention of Nature. Additionally, in the literature and writing class we offer From Utopia to Exile, Identity, Joy, and Justice, Writing Workshop, Oddballs and Iconoclasts, and Philosophy.

A major component of the senior Humanities track is a focus on civic engagement. We are committed to nurturing the development of each and every Northwest student as they find their voice in the world. Students engage with the Constitution throughout their time here, most notably in 10th grade and culminating in their senior year. Each HUM 12 Social Studies class studies the Constitution. This study is connected to the major themes of the specific course, which allows for deeper connections with the real-world issues students have chosen to learn more about.

All seniors are required to volunteer at least 15 hours of their time to an electoral campaign, social justice project, nonprofit, or other approved political project of their choosing. Through these projects, students are encouraged to find ways to authentically engage in the political process by channeling their interests. The subsequent study of the Constitution and development of a written portfolio allows them to reflect on the work they have done as they begin to figure out how to move beyond the school community and into the start of their adult lives.