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Customized Education
Proctor's academic curriculum is so diverse it allows students to pursue content they find most appealing. Sure, we have requirements for each department; students are required to take World History, United States History, Intro to Literature, American Literature, Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 as well as two years of a language.

However, beyond those requirements, students have an immense freedom to design their academic experience. Our admissions view book states, "Which Path Will You Choose?", and we truly mean that. Will you spend a term in Spain? On Mountain Classroom? Ocean Classroom? Will you take AP Economics? Studio Art? Will you take Band Recording or will you take part in the Chamber Choir? Will you take Surveying and Math Design theory or will would you rather study AP Statistics?

This term, Proctor's individualized educational offerings have grown once more with the Social Science department's independent study curriculum. Initially proposed to department chairs last spring, this independent study allows students to choose a topic of study and pursue with the guidance of a member of the Social Science department. The student will receive a Level 1 Social Science credit and in the process will have significant ownership of his or her learning experience.

Psychology and Environmental Social Science teacher Adam Jones is serving as the first faculty sponsor of two independent studies this winter as Denning and Richard explore Native American culture and Psychology, respectively. Jones, who also directs the school's Community Program, notes, "This opportunity is perhaps the best college preparatory learning we do at Proctor. It empowers students to choose their area of study and to be in complete control of their education, as my role changes from really teaching to facilitating schedules and offering guidance. I am able to provide Richard and Denning with resources, contacts, and suggestions, but they are the ones diving into the content and driving this experience, it's amazing to watch."

Richard, a two year senior from Texas, has excelled in the Social Sciences while at Proctor and his ability to conduct detailed research and synthesize his understanding of content effectively earned him the Connie Appel Award for Writing in the Social Sciences last spring. Richard echoes Jones' comments noting, "Adam has taken on the role of facilitator for us this term, he simply directs us towards potentially useful resources and sets us free. It is then our responsibility to read, ask questions, connect with individuals outside of the Proctor community and decide how we want to apply the knowledge."

He adds, "This independent study gives me the opportunity to explore something in depth that I would never be able to study in my regular coursework. This is the type of thing that makes Proctor so amazing!" To hear more of Richard's thoughts, listen to the rest of the interview here.

While Richard has chosen to explore psychology and consciousness along with the impact of rhetoric and binaural beats on decision-making, Denning's research into Native American culture and the current impact on American colonialism on the Lakota culture is equally intriguing. Her unique perspective, as a British citizen, studying the long-lasting impacts of Native American relations with American government provide a tremendous backdrop for her research. Jones notes of Denning's research to date, "Denning is so hungry to learn and to capture and direct that hunger has been our main goal. She is digesting research as soon as she gets her hand on it and I can't wait to see how she decides to pull all this knowledge together into her final project."

The exact direction of these two independent studies will most certainly evolve over course of the term, but the end goals will remain unchanged: to allow students the opportunity to create and drive an independent learning experience that allows them to engage in issues, collaborate with resources outside of the Proctor community, research using current resources, critically think, problem solve and take intellectual risks en route to communicating and applying knowledge effectively.

Be sure to check back to this blog later in the term to see the outcome of these projects!
One needn't look any further than our winter term planning grid that lists all the courses from which students can choose to understand just how customizable a Proctor education can be.
Two students this term, Richard and Denning, are enrolled in an independent study for the first time through the Social Science Department.
Denning is researching and studying Native American culture this term and is loving her ability to delve deep into her content.
Richard is researching behavioral psychology concepts and shares some excellent thoughts in the main body of this blog post.