A guide to Peddie's cool curriculum

What makes our curriculum particularly innovative are the unique opportunities for students. Like hands-on experience. Collaboration with fellow students. Work that crosses disciplines. Exceptional opportunities to design intensive projects. And more. Take a look at some of our favorites.

Arts Foundation

"Students in the arts develop fundamental life skills. From time management to organization, students, through art, become better in every subject."
-Alan Michaels, Arts department chair

Students paint by the Peddie Lake

Students paint by the Peddie Lake.

Every Peddie student participates in the arts. Freshmen jump right into the Arts Foundations program with three terms of arts classes, one each in music, theater and visual arts. The first-year requirement is a chance to embrace various forms of creative expression, and maybe even discover some hidden talents.

In “Music Foundations,” students learn to read music and compose and perform original compositions with their classmates. Drawing inspiration from music, guided meditation, and film and art history, students in “Visual Arts Foundations paint, sculpt and create collages. In the highly collaborative and comprehensive “Theater Foundations,” students study improv and method acting, brush up on their creative writing skills, and explore playwriting, directing, technical theater and theater history.

After completing the Arts Foundations program, students take at least two additional arts electives in any area. The most important thing is that students explore, because who knows what might spark an idea that will shape their future forever?

Senior Seminars

"By the end of their Peddie English career, seniors have developed a sensitivity to people and situations, a sense of themselves, and an understanding of myriad literary, social and human perspectives in a complex world."

-Matt Roach, English department chair

Seniors Seminars at Peddie

English teacher Diku Rogers '12 (center) monitors a discussion about "The World According to Garp" in the senior seminar, "Reckless Libertines."

Seniors begin the year with a choice of Senior Seminars, in which they study complex novels, tackle creative assignments and engage in spirited class discussions that address meaningful questions about society and life. Students in “Reckless Libertines” study gender and relationships while reading John Irving’s “The World According to Garp.” In “Piece of Work is Man,” they may stage a scene from one of August Wilson’s plays. Reading assignments in “The Undiscovered Country” spark exploration of the immigrant experience in America.

Each seminar title is a reference to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Perhaps it’s no surprise that every senior will read this culturally ubiquitous masterpiece, and may perform a scene from the play or a creatively written “deleted scene.”

After completing a Senior Thesis during the winter term, an exciting menu of spring electives awaits. Students examine Baz Luhrmann’s hit Netflix series in “The Get Down: Hip-Hop as Narrative” and construct their own time travel stories in “Literature of Time Travel.” In “Where the Wild Things Are: Writing and the Outdoors,” students spend time outside and reflect on this experience in writing.

Spanish V

"There is only one way to learn. It's through action."
-The Alchemist

Teacher Claudio Middleton (left) conducts his Spanish V class in the art studio.

Teacher Claudio Middleton (left) conducts his Spanish V class in the art studio.

The story of Santiago, the shepherd boy on a journey to realize his “Personal Legend” in Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” has inspired people all over the world to live their dreams. The classic book also serves as a starting point for students in Spanish V, who experience Spanish language and culture through experiential learning.

Along with reading “The Alchemist,” students in this action-packed course discuss classic Spanish language films and teach ESL to Spanish speaking learners. Students expand their knowledge of Spanish culture by working in Peddie’s art studio and by viewing the work of critically acclaimed artists from Latin America and Spain during visits to museums in New York City and Princeton, and the Grounds for Sculpture in nearby Hamilton.

“Knowing how to speak Spanish truly expands one’s personal universe,” said teacher Claudio Middleton. “It completely transforms any travel experience, and is a vehicle to learn about other cultures, try new disciplines, or simply to help others,” he said.

Mandela's Legacy

"Our teachers get excited about designing imaginative classroom experiences ... "
-Alison Hogarth, History department chair

The South African Government of National Unity has established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to bring to light crimes from the apartheid years. A full confession can win a pardon for politically induced crimes. Your assignment: argue that your client, a perpetrator of crimes committed under apartheid’s reign, should receive amnesty.

In “Mandela’s Legacy: South Africa’s Search for Truth and Reconciliation,” students work collaboratively in teams of lawyers and judges in a mock amnesty trial. As a result, they gain a unique perspective on South Africa’s journey from apartheid to democracy and the country’s attempt to find forgiveness in a land with a tortured past. Students also examine Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy through films and documentaries.

Department Chair Alison Hogarth said that both teachers and students enjoy using creative approaches to the study of history. “Our teachers get excited about designing imaginative classroom experiences,” said Hogarth. “The TRC mock amnesty trial is a powerful exercise that helps students appreciate the challenges faced by Mandela in trying to create a new South Africa.”

Organic Chemistry of Food

"While students are engaged in hands-on food science experiements, they are also learning about the environmental, social, moral and political issues associated with getting food to the table."
-Madeleine Cozine, teacher

Organic Chemistry of Food at Peddie

Students in Organic Chemistry of Food engage in hands-on food science experiments.

What do the words “natural” and “organic” on food labels really mean? What are you actually putting in your mouth when you eat a fast food burger? Students in “Organic Chemistry of Food” find out the answers to those questions by studying food labels and learning about food regulation.

How often do you have assignments with edible results? Students explore the science behind modern cuisine and try their hand at unique recipes. The result? Delectable treats like yogurt, mozzarella cheese and vegan lemon poppy seed muffins that the student chefs debut at spring Science Night.

Multivariable Calculus

"We wander. Since there is no AP for this level of mathematics, we have the freedom to go in-depth when there is student interest."
-Tim Corica, Math department chair

Multivariable Calculus at Peddie

Students produce 3D graphs of cones in Multivariable Calculus.

The backbone of “Multivariable Calculus” (MVC) is similar to “Calculus III” in a university setting, but Department Chair Tim Corica has enhanced it with several unusual features.

The popular course has run continuously for a decade. MVC students regularly use the high-end math software, Maple, to compute equations and produce sophisticated 3D graphs of objects – including Slinkys! Offering a great example of cross-department collaboration, students in the Digital Fabrication Laboratory custom build spirographs (remember those geometric drawing toys you had when you were a kid?) for MVC students so that they can create mathematically precise roulette curves known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids.

Wait for this … a book project in math class? That’s right; MVC students read a non-textbook book on math and report back on what they’ve learned. “The idea is to stimulate their thinking and remind them that there is more to math than what is in a textbook,” Corica said.