This year sees rapid growth, in bodies and in self-consciousness. Students feel increasingly awkward, restless and dissatisfied with the status quo. They long simultaneously for solitude, independence, and the constant companionship of peers. They challenge their teachers and push the envelope.
In History they encounter soul counterparts in the Renaissance, the flowering of individual imagination; the Reformation, the triumph of individual conscience; and the Age of Exploration, the relentless drive for new conquests. The profound change in consciousness from the 15th to 18th centuries encouraged individuals to seek truth via none but their own sensory experience and reason; exact measurement and factual accuracy became ideals. In Geography, the world as a whole comes into view, enhanced by the Renaissance development of cartography.
In Astronomy the revolutionary sun-centered view of the universe appears, put forth by Renaissance thinkers who dared to thwart church doctrine. In Physics and Mechanics growing skills in observation and calculation reveal laws of cause and effect, via intriguing experiments like the construction of a walk-in camera. In Chemistry, inflammatory adolescents study combustion, acids, bases, and the lime cycle and construct a limekiln that burns marble at 1800ºF.In Physiology they encounter their own bodies in the Digestive, Circulatory, Respiratory and Reproductive systems, including sex education and the results of substance abuse.
The students are now thrilled to encounter Algebra, a new, abstract world accessible only to the mind. And because they resonate with life’s imperfections, they are deeply gratified to discover experimentally, in Geometry, so-called “irrational” numbers—which paradoxically underlie the most perfect forms in nature, classical architecture, and the ratios of the human body.