After a year unlike any other, and a school year that was continuously reworked to abide by the evolving health and safety restrictions of COVID-19, Hun students came together for an in-person, experiential, three-week mini semester.
To the Hun community, this mini-semester is known as NextTerm; to the outside world, it’s known as a ground-breaking immersion learning curriculum designed to offer a deep exploration of real-world topics. Every Hun student is encouraged to push their textbooks aside, get out of the classroom, and immerse themselves in their respective topics. For some students, that means examining climate change and sustainability through architecture, agriculture, and economics; traveling to a few of our country’s national parks to understand how nature is an essential part of the human experience; or exploring how a world-wide pandemic is predicted to change the medical field and world economy.
Ryan Hews, Head of the Upper School and teacher of NextTerm: Into The Open Spaces has quite literally taken his students out of the classroom and into National Parks like Shenandoah National Park and the Delaware Water Gap to teach students how history, literature, conservation biology, and agriculture all work in tandem to inspire and sustain human beings. He notes that it’s important for students to see how traditional disciplines work together in a real-world setting.
“We are intentional in making sure each course covers more than one particular academic discipline, because we want students to see that academic disciplines don’t exist in isolation. They are, in the real world, always interdisciplinary.”
And while each NextTerm course explores a variety of disciplines, an important aspect of the curriculum is to understand and make connections to real-world problems. For example, students of the course The New Normal are reimagining what a post-pandemic world might look like. Students pick a topic of interest such as architecture, international relations, education, sports, or entertainment and study how COVID-19 impacted these areas and how they have changed around the world.
NextTerm not only provides Hun students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and create memorable experiences with classmates, but more importantly, it allows students to push their own limits, grow, and learn who they are as individuals.
In the NextTerm course Making Good Trouble students are meeting with activists in a variety of different fields to learn the many ways students can engage in activism. Students are then turning their activism into service by working with local and international organizations to help the communities they serve.
“The opportunities students have through NextTerm are ones that don’t exist anywhere else,” said Otis Douce, director of Equity, Inclusion, and Global Diversity and teacher of NextTerm: Making Good Trouble. “The program provides experiences that are meaningful and foundational for who they are, who they become, and how they see the world.”