At the heart of Whitfield's mission is our commitment to character development, exemplified by the Habits of Mind & Heart. While the curriculum is formally delivered through Advisory, opportunities to further develop the six Habits (ethical conduct, cultural competence, citizenship, mindfulness, leadership, scholarship) abound. Whitfield's Social Change and World Affairs course, a year-long elective in the social studies department, is designed as an introduction to sociology. During the year, seniors gain an understanding of different sociological perspectives as they think critically, sensitively, and analytically about the condition of different human communities across national and cultural boundaries.
At Whitfield visual artists develop studio techniques as well as an understanding of how to approach art-making as a problem based process—an approach that comes into play when creative problem-solving in any discipline. Recently, freshmen in Design Overview combined the Elements and Principles of Design to learn about visual aesthetics and their own ideals pertaining to beauty as they were challenged to create contemporary self-portraits.
In US Government & Civics, eighth grade students study the evolution of American democracy from colonialism to today as they develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Through assignments and projects, students build on their effective research, writing, public speaking, presentation, and critical thinking skills. To bring to life their study of the Bill of Rights, students participated in a mock trial. Faculty member Matt Kingston developed four hypothetical cases which revolved around the First, Second, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments. Working in small groups, students were presented with a set of facts for their case and assigned a side to represent.
Students at Whitfield read a variety of genres of literature. In eighth grade English, they examine how protagonists and other voices acquire and express their identities. Through a wide range of assignments students strengthen their critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills. For their first unit this year, students studied the style and structure of Aesop's Fables then wrote their own original pieces. Each fable had to contain a clearly stated moral, introduce characters, situation, choice and consequences, and be 100-200 words in length. Students read their fables aloud in class and received feedback from their peers.