Inside Ninth Grade Honors Physics

This is the first in a series of posts that will chronicle the fall term of Beaver’s ninth grade honors physics class. Director of Communications Jan Devereux will participate as a student in the class and share her experiences here.

As I begin my sixth year as director of communications here, I want to experience Beaver’s unique brand of education firsthand by “enrolling” myself in a class this fall. I chose Laura Nickerson’s 9th grade physics course because, somehow, I managed to get all the way through high school, college and grad school without ever taking physics; it’s time for me to get out of my humanities comfort zone and overcome my science phobia. At Beaver, we pride ourselves on pushing students to take intellectual risks and letting them make “excellent mistakes” along the path to discovering their passions. I want to know — and to tell you — what that feels like.

In addition, I want to open a window for others to see how one of our master teachers works — specifically, how she teaches students a diverse set of thinking skills that they can apply to problems in any discipline going forward. When I was in high school, way back in the 20th century, teachers served us heavy portions of content (facts, dates, formulas) to digest and regurgitate. No one set out to teach us any “21st century skills” like synthesis, collaboration, innovation, and multi-perspective thinking. (And, of course, Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet!) This is a different age, however, and Beaver is a very different kind of school. I hope that by reading my posts you will get a sense of why the world needs more schools like Beaver.

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