• Brearley
Upper School

Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Class IX

    [Courses are full credit, lasting a full year, unless otherwise noted.]

    ENGLISH: essays; grammar; sonnets; Macbeth; Pride and Prejudice; Their Eyes Were Watching God; practice in close reading and analytical writing; creative assignments.

    MATHEMATICS
    GEOMETRY: an intuitive and analytical approach to the mathematics of shapes and space. The properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons and circles are studied through the use of logic and deductive proofs. Algebraic problem-solving skills are reinforced throughout.
    GEOMETRY WITH EXTENDED EXPLORATIONS: an investigation into geometric concepts through a more abstract lens. The course will explore the properties of triangles, polygons and circles from first principles through the use of logic and deductive proofs, geometry of motion and algebra of transformations, and will provide an introduction to Algebra II through mappings and functions. Computer software (Geometer’s Sketchpad) will be used to extend and explore concepts.

    TWENTIETH-CENTURY WORLD HISTORY: global history from the late nineteenth century to the present, with a strong emphasis on reading, interpreting and contextualizing primary sources.

    BIOLOGY: study of life processes, with emphasis on cell biology, DNA, genetics, evolution, plant reproduction, animal physiology and an extended laboratory exploration of biotechnology. The course includes a field trip to investigate the ecology of an intertidal zone.

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH II COMPREHENSIVE: for those who began in Class VII, a consolidation of students’ knowledge of syntax, and the beginning of the study of literature.
    FRENCH II: for those who began French in Class V, consolidation of grammar and expansion of vocabulary, a continuation of the study of short literary works and the skills of textual analysis.
    COMPREHENSIVE MANDARIN I: an introductory course with an emphasis on practical communicative skills. Students learn to write and memorize simplified Chinese characters, study basic grammar and develop phonetic awareness in speaking and listening. This course may be offered when there is sufficient enrollment.
    MANDARIN II: for those who began Mandarin in Class V, continued study of listening, speaking, reading and writing with emphasis on formal grammatical structures; exploration of Chinese culture through project-based learning and field trips to local Chinese communities.
    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH I: this introductory course emphasizes listening and speaking, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar, and explores the culture and customs of Spanish-speaking countries. Course may be offered when there is sufficient enrollment.
    SPANISH II: for those who began Spanish in Class V, a thorough review of grammar and introduction of advanced structures, and the reading of adapted versions of classical literature such as Don Quijote de la Mancha as well as selections of fictional work, poetry and short films by Latin American and Spanish writers. Presentations on cultural and historical topics enhance students’ oral proficiency and confidence.

    LATIN II: completion of the introduction to basic vocabulary and syntax using the Cambridge Latin program, followed by stories from the Fabulae Faciles collection, and excerpts adapted from Roman authors.

    DRAMA (half credit; throughout the year): introduction to the art of play-making in all of its aspects, from the actor’s approach to the script to the creation of scenery, props and costumes. Particular attention is paid to vocal projection, physical poise and strengthened concentration. Students rehearse and perform a full-length play during the second semester.

    MUSIC (half credit; throughout the year):
    VOCAL TECHNIQUE AND LITERATURE: fundamentals of vocal technique and introduction to the solo song literature, ending with a performance. Participation in the Upper School Chorus is required (open also to X–XII).
    CHAMBER MUSIC/ORCHESTRA: small groups of instrumentalists study standard chamber repertoire, ending with a performance. Participation in the Upper School Orchestra is required (open also to X–XII).
    INSTRUMENTAL TECHNIQUES: exploration of technique in a small group setting of like instruments. This course extends the work accomplished in Middle School instrumental classes and supports the repertoire played in the Upper School Orchestra. Each semester ends with a performance. Participation in the Upper School Orchestra is required.

    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): fundamentals of oil painting, color and composition taught through direct observation and imaginative invention of still life. Participation in conceptual and historically based discussions, group critique and one museum study assignment are required.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: badminton, fitness, Pilates, Tai Chi, running, outdoor education, team sports, quidditch, dance and yoga. Three periods a week of P.E. or participation in one of fifteen interscholastic teams fulfills this requirement. Students must also fulfill an additional requirement of certification in First Aid/ CPR by taking the First Aid course offered by the P. E. Department.

    HEALTH: integrates the five core competencies of social and emotional skill development into a solid health education. Curriculum covers mindfulness, values clarification, relationships, human sexuality, media literacy, drug and alcohol education. Classes are designed to promote small group discussion and culminate in a project in which students design public service announcements on topics of their choice.
  • Class X

    ENGLISH: American literature, novels, short stories, essays, autobiographies and poems from the Puritans through the moderns. Authors include Bradstreet, Douglass, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Twain, Cather, Fitzgerald, Morrison and selected poets.

    MATHEMATICS
    ALGEBRA II: study of mathematical relations, functions and transformations; specific topics include polynomial and rational functions, trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, and the complex number system. The TI-84 graphing calculator is used as a tool for extension, exploration and solution.
    ALGEBRA II WITH EXTENDED EXPLORATIONS: in-depth study of mathematical relations, functions and transformations; specific topics include polynomial and rational functions, trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, and the complex number system. The TI-84 graphing calculator is used as a tool for extension, exploration and solution.
    ALGEBRA II AND PRECALCULUS: an in-depth study of Algebra II and Precalculus; specific topics include polynomial functions, rational functions, trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, sequences and series, vectors, parametric equations, polar coordinates and graphs. An introduction to the study of Calculus will include the topics of limits, continuity and derivatives. This course prepares students for Advanced Calculus and may be taken with the permission of the Math Department.

    UNITED STATES HISTORY: a chronological survey introducing students to political, economic, social and cultural developments in American history from 1492 to the present, incorporating the study of the US Constitution and federal government, extensive work with primary sources and a focused introduction to historiography. Students travel to Washington, DC, in April to meet with people who work in or with the US government.

    CHEMISTRY: an investigation into the nature of matter and chemical change. Specific topics include electron configuration, bonding, gas behavior, the concept of moles, stoichiometry, redox reactions, thermochemistry and acid-base chemistry. Whenever possible, the course explores the chemistry of environmental issues, and the year culminates with an independent research project (open also to XI and XII).

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH III COMPREHENSIVE: for students who began in Class VII, this course emphasizes speaking, reading and writing through the study of increasingly advanced vocabulary and grammar, the examination of French society and culture and the reading of short literary and expository texts.
    FRENCH III: the expansion and refinement of speaking, writing and reading skills through the continuing study of grammar and the in-depth analysis and discussion of current events and literary works.
    COMPREHENSIVE MANDARIN II: continued development of skills in communication, reading and writing; broader and more intensive vocabulary and syntax; work with facility and fluency in tones for individual characters as well as lexical formations and radicals to aid in memorization of characters. This course may be offered when there is sufficient enrollment.
    MANDARIN III: for students who began in Class V, continued study of increasingly advanced syntax and vocabulary, with discussion of a broader range of issues in Chinese society, history and culture.
    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH II: for students who began in Class IX, this intermediate course continues the study of syntax, vocabulary and cultural understanding of the Hispanic world. Emphasis is placed on the study of the past tenses. A variety of media resources are used to enhance the student’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
    SPANISH III: strengthening of communication skills and cultural competency in Spanish through the study of literary texts and short films from Latin America and Spain, with emphasis on textual analysis, cultural understanding and analytical writing.

    LATIN III: in the fall, readings from either Caesar’s De Bello Gallico or Cicero’s In Catilinam; in the spring, selections from Books I, II, and IV of Vergil’s Aeneid.

    DRAMA (half credit; throughout the year): in the first semester, concentration on elements of the actor’s art: motivation, objective, physical realization and script analysis. In the second semester, students consider scenic and costume design, stage management, prop building and stage carpentry as part of the preparation for performance of a full-length play. Post-production, they explore elements of playwriting and directing.

    MUSIC: see Class IX.

    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): students work in observational drawing, collage, and printmaking on expressive assignments with one required museum study assignment.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX.

    CO-CURRICULAR SOPHOMORE SEMINAR: a yearlong class in health education, service leadership development and public speaking (required of all students in Class X).

    COMMUNITY SERVICE: The students on the Upper School Diversity Committee also hold weekly meetings as well as lead discussions on issues such as race, gender and political ideology. Among the student clubs in the Upper School are several groups that offer opportunities for celebrating shared identity and creating cultural programming for the whole community. As some students evidence a particularly strong commitment to supporting Brearley’s ongoing equity efforts, the School commits to sending those in Upper School to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, hosted annually by the National Association of Independent Schools.

    UPPER SCHOOL ART: offerings may include Ceramics, Bookmaking, Drawing at the Met and Photography.

    POETRY WORKSHOP: a yearlong course that offers a rigorous apprenticeship to the art of poetry writing. The course is conducted as a workshop, the focus of which is student work. Students learn to write about what they know (e.g., family, grief, place) as a metaphor for the broader human experience. Over the course of the year, they develop their skills in using imagery, figurative language, lineation, repetition, meter, rhyme and syntax. In addition to completing writing assignments, students are expected to read modern poetry and other relevant literature to deepen their understanding of their practice. Not for credit.

    ADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: a three-year sequence that includes reading and discussion of peer-reviewed scientific articles with their authors who visit Brearley from various New York City research institutions; cutting-edge laboratory experiments that may include RNA interference, Polymerase Chain Reaction and DNA barcoding; opportunities for research internships and entry in Intel or Siemens competitions. This program accepts 5 new students from Class X each year for a total of 15 enrolled students. Not for credit.
  • Class XI

    ENGLISH: elective in poetic analysis (for example, John Donne and Emily Dickinson; Victorian to Modern Poetry; Romantic Poetry; or Heaney and Walcott); a required trimester on Greek tragedy and King Lear; and a spring elective on narrative works (The Canterbury Tales; Moby Dick; James Joyce; or Rushdie and Lahiri).

    MATHEMATICS
    PRECALCULUS AND AN INTRODUCTION TO DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS: extended study of functions and trigonometry begun in Class X. Additional topics may include vectors, conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates, probability and statistics, and sequences and series. Calculus topics include limits and derivatives. This course prepares students for the study of AB Calculus.
    PRECALCULUS EXTENDED AND DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS: extended study of functions and trigonometry begun in Class X, as well as vectors, conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates and graphs, probability and statistics, and sequences and series. Calculus topics include limits, derivatives and applications of derivatives. This course prepares students for the study of BC Calculus.
    ADVANCED CALCULUS: differential and integral calculus of functions of one variable with applications; power series. Students wishing to take the College Board AP BC Calculus exam will find that this course provides suitable preparation.
    INTERSCHOOL GAME THEORY (half credit; throughout the year): theoretical analysis of game theory taught through applications in economics, politics, business, evolutionary biology, religion, philosophy, computer science and sports, as well as through games such as poker and chess. Quantitative models are developed for strategic situations, and analysis includes optimization and graphical analysis. This course is offered through the Interschool consortium.
    INTERSCHOOL PROBLEM SOLVING (half credit; throughout the year): A collaborative exploration of problem-solving skills and strategies including topics from combinatorics, number theory, advanced algebra, geometry, probability and graph theory. Problems studied include examples from past AIME and US Math Olympiad competitions.

    HISTORY [The following list of electives is representative; some may not be offered in 2018–2019.]
    HISTORY OF CHINA AND JAPAN: The course starts with the history of the 20th and 21st centuries in China, and then looks back chronologically at political, social and cultural developments in China and Japan, culminating in a consideration of disparate Chinese and Japanese responses to European incursions in the modern period, the legacies of World War II and Japan’s position in the world today (open also to XII).
    MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY: a survey of European history from the Renaissance to the present, with particular attention to nationalism and other sources of identity (open also to XII).
    MODERN LATIN AMERICA: an introduction to issues and themes in the history of Latin America since 1800. Students explore the most important political, economic, social and cultural developments that characterize the region as a whole, while keeping in mind the considerable variation among the countries in the region (open also to XII).
    HISTORY OF WARFARE: a survey of the history of war from the gunpowder revolution of the 15th century to the present. Students will examine the development of infantry, cavalry, artillery and asymmetrical warfare.
    MODERNISM IN ART: a study of significant developments in art beginning with the French Revolution up until the present (open also to XII).
    LAW, ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY: an introduction to the history and structures of American civil and criminal law, with a focus on the ways that law and economic thinking structure foreign and domestic policies (open also to XII).
    THE ATLANTIC WORLD: an examination of the interactions between Europe, Africa, and North and South America, from the fifteenth century onward, that spurred the creation of Atlantic empires spanning the Western Hemisphere (open also to XII).
    WORLD ART: A survey of world art from Prehistoric through the contemporary period. Formal, contextual and methodological problems in art history are explored in a wide range of cultures. Regular visits to local museums are part of the course (open also to XII).
    MODERN AFRICAN HISTORY: an exploration of twentieth-century African history, giving special attention to political, military and religious history (open also to XII).

    SCIENCE
    ADVANCED BIOLOGY: intensive investigation of selected topics, including biochemistry, energetics, information transfer, structure, function and regulation of genes, population genetics, biotechnology, morphology and physiology of plants and animals, evolution and ecology. Investigations include applications using statistics and mathematical modeling. Students write grant proposals on topics of their choice. Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry (open also to XII).
    ADVANCED CHEMISTRY: a deeper exploration of equilibrium, acids and bases, and electrochemistry introduced in Chemistry and new topics including kinetics, thermodynamics, molecular architecture and orbital hybridization. Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry (open also to XII).
    CHEMISTRY: see Class X.
    PHYSICS: the investigation of the nature of forces and energy and their interactions with matter. Topics include mechanical, thermal, wave, electromagnetic and nuclear energy (open also to XII).
    ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY (full-year or semester-long, non-lab course): exploration of the role of science, economics and government policy in developing an environmentally sustainable world. Topics include human population growth, energy production, climate change, freshwater resources, agriculture, fisheries, waste management and biodiversity (open also to XII).

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH IV: a consideration of classic and contemporary French literature and culture with an emphasis on speaking and writing. Students learn contemporary idioms, review grammar, and read and interpret texts from a variety of sources.
    MANDARIN IV: extensive reading of essays, stories, and newspaper and magazine articles; discussion of current events; analytical and creative writing; participating in Chinese culture workshops and communicating with native speakers of Mandarin.
    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH III: for students who began in Class IX, continued study of grammar with an emphasis on advanced grammar structures. Readings include short stories, excerpts from novels and adapted versions of literary masterpieces.
    SPANISH IV: for students who began in Class V, continued formal study of a selection of short stories, poetry and non-fiction about the history of Spain and Latin America. Grammar usage and literary analysis will be reinforced through writing assignments and oral communication activities.

    CLASSICS
    LATIN IV: selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and from the poems of Catullus.
    GREEK I (half credit; throughout the year): introduction to Attic Greek. Topics include the principles of word formation and syntax, Aesop’s fables and the life of Alexander the Great (open also to XII).

    ART
    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): advanced work in the studio with in-depth exploration of various drawing and painting media. One museum study assignment is required.
    ART INTENSIVE (half credit; fall or spring semester): for curious and committed students, an opportunity to explore the visual arts and self-expression through a range of traditional and contemporary media, including painting, drawing and printmaking. Thought-provoking and interpretive concepts will be examined in a relaxed, inclusive studio setting focusing on student-driven projects.

    DRAMA: PLAYWRITING (half credit; spring semester): introduction to the art and craft of playwriting. Students write and edit their own short plays; at the end of the semester there is a lightly staged presentation to the public using student actors.

    MUSIC: see Class IX.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX.

    COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PROGRAMMING (half credit in either semester; full credit if taken all year): in the first semester, students investigate topics in computer science including computer hardware, software and programming algorithms; in the second semester, students learn basics of the Java programming language through problem solving, debugging logical and syntax errors, and creating original object-oriented programs.

    CO-CURRICULAR JUNIOR SEMINAR: a yearlong class that encompasses health education, life skills, college advising and the transition to college (required of all students in Class XI).

    COMMUNITY SERVICE: see Class X.

    POETRY WORKSHOP: see Class X.

    SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: see Class X.
  • Class XII

    ENGLISH: required unit of essays and poetry; electives from late fall through the winter term in Russian literature (short fiction by Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, Tolstoy and Turgenev; Anna Karenina); William Faulkner’s fiction; Willa Cather, Henry James and James Baldwin; or Shakespeare electives in the spring term determined by interests of students (in recent years, primarily individual projects in fiction, drama or writing).

    MATHEMATICS
    FUNDAMENTALS OF CALCULUS: covers the principal topics of differential and integral calculus with an emphasis on applications.
    CALCULUS: differential and integral calculus of functions of one variable with applications. Students wishing to take the College Board AP AB Calculus exam will find that this course provides suitable preparation.
    ADVANCED CALCULUS: see Class XI.
    LINEAR ALGEBRA: vectors, linear transformations, general vector spaces and the algebra of matrices.
    INTERSCHOOL GAME THEORY: see Class XI.
    INTERSCHOOL PROBLEM SOLVING: see Class XI.

    HISTORY: see Class XI for the list of electives.

    SCIENCE
    ADVANCED BIOLOGY: see Class XI.
    ADVANCED CHEMISTRY: see Class XI.
    ADVANCED PHYSICS: an extended study, based on calculus, of relationships between forces, matter and energy. Selected topics include kinematics and dynamics, rotational mechanics, electrostatics, circuits, and nuclear and particle physics. Prerequisite: Physics.
    CHEMISTRY: see Class X.
    PHYSICS: see Class XI.
    ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: see Class XI.

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH V: culmination of the study of classic and contemporary French literature and culture. French, francophone and world cultural and societal issues are explored through communication and textual analysis. The use of various media sources and classic and contemporary texts foster conversation and thoughtful debate.
    MANDARIN V: culmination of the study of Mandarin at Brearley; continued study of Chinese language and culture through reading, writing, discussion; project-based learning such as student teaching.
    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH IV: completion of the course of study begun in Class IX. Emphasis is placed on the discussion and written analysis of literary and cultural topics. Critical thinking is encouraged, reinforcing the four skills in the target language.
    SPANISH V: for students who began in Class V, culmination of the study of literature from different Hispanic countries. Art, film and non-fiction material will also enhance students’ cultural understanding in today’s global world. Advanced grammar and literary analysis will be reinforced through analytical writing assignments and oral communication activities.

    CLASSICS
    LATIN V: the study of a particular author or genre; for example, the speeches or letters of Cicero, the comedies of Plautus, Horace’s Odes or selections from the Roman historians.
    GREEK I: see Class XI.
    GREEK II (half credit; throughout the year): continuation of the study of Attic Greek. Students read adapted versions of the Apology, Clouds and the histories of Herodotus.

    ART
    STUDIO ART: see Class XI.
    ART INTENSIVE: see Class XI.

    DRAMA ACTING AND DRAMATIC LITERATURE (half-credit; throughout the year): combines the study of major plays, predominantly modern, with the chance to perform in an intensive scene workshop. Playwrights in the syllabus include Williams, Miller, Ibsen, Treadwell, Hellman and Kushner. The class meets at least two evenings in the semester to attend professional theatre. MUSIC: see Class IX.

    COMPUTER EDUCATION COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PROGRAMMING (divisible into two separate half courses): see Class XI.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX.

    CO-CURRICULAR SENIOR SEMINAR: a yearlong class that encompasses health education, life skills, college advising and the transition to college (required of all students in Class XII).

    POETRY WORKSHOP: see Class X.

    SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: see Class X.
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