Inquiry in Human Development

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Inquiry in Human Development

What does inquiry look like in Human Development? What distinguishes our Human Development classrooms? What are the main aspects of our program?

Foundational Principles and Distinctive Features of the Human Development Program at Cate

  • The Human Development Program aims to educate and actively cultivate students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) and personal growth holistically using the themes of Well-Being and Service Leadership.
  • There is great emphasis on issues of social justice, and learning skills through outdoor experiences.
  • Adopted in 1985, the program has been emulated by other independent schools and recognized nationally.
  • The Human Development Department integrates the “Adventure Wave,” a form of the Experiential Learning Cycle modified by Project Adventure. Learning happens most effectively in a four phase process of (1) concrete experience, (2) observation and reflections, (3) the formation of abstract concepts and (4) application to life through a de-briefing process.
  • The program has a four-year sequence with a required Freshman Seminar, Sophomore Seminar, and a Junior Seminar (Vision into Practice) as well as Senior leadership roles as Teaching Assistants.
  • Freshman Year: The seminar and retreat emphasize the grade-level themes of orientation and organization and is designed to improve social and self-awareness, relationship skills, self-management, and responsible decision-making. Neuroscience and cognitive skills are introduced and practiced to enhance understanding.
  • Sophomore Year: The seminar and retreat emphasize grade-level themes of responsibility and awareness through healthy relationships, well-being, drug education, and sexual health. Service leadership is explored through one of two elective paths: outdoors or social justice, which both end in a capstone weekend retreat.
  • Junior Year: Seminar and retreat emphasize “authentic” leadership skills, creating shared visions, fostering collaboration, and building trust. Both academic inquiry and live practice develop the abilities to serve and lead.
  • Senior Year: There are opportunities for Teaching Assistants (T.A.’s) who are expected to model well-being and service leadership behaviors (self-discipline, persistence, awareness, responsibility, and kindness. The T.A.’s have a training retreat and with their seminar groups by facilitating classes and connecting with students outside of class.

Student Skills and Learning Responsibilities

Cate students will be able to:

Practice empathy.
Understand and employ the principles of S.P.A.R.K (Self-discipline, Persistence, Awareness, Responsibility, and Kindness)
Communicate effectively.
Understand healthy practices.
Apply their strengths and strengthen their challenges as young adults.

Teaching Practices and Pedagogy

Cate teachers:

  • Design and structure age-appropriate, relevant activities and curriculum to instill the principles of S.P.A.R.K (Self-discipline,
  • Persistence, Awareness, Responsibility, and Kindness).
  • Clarify and model community values by:
  • Practicing responsibility
  • Modeling empathy and kindness
  • Create and encourage student discussion and different perspectives.
  • Coach and develop what it means to be well and why certain behaviors matter.
  • Facilitate leadership skills in students through questions:
    • What am I doing now?
    • What are the needs of others or the group?
    • What is needed of me?
  • Provide information and resources.