The humanities form the backbone of a Deerfield education. Across all of the humanities – English, history, foreign language, and philosophy and religion – the emphasis is on the expression of ideas in both written and verbal form. Classes are small, and teachers facilitate lively discussions in a seminar setting. Through discussion, students learn to examine their world critically and account for a variety of cultural, philosophical, and historical perspectives.
Deerfield’s lessons in the humanities follow the organization of the curriculum as a whole, a structured foundation in early years leads to more flexibility. Many classes end with a final “culminating experience” that consists of a long-term project, in which students narrow their focus onto a single element, unearthing new and original insights.
The humanities faculty varies greatly in their level of experience, from faculty who have spent fifty or more years teaching to teaching fellows just out of college, but all share a love of teaching and a desire to impart their knowledge to a new generation of students. They guide discussions from within, and strive to create an atmosphere conducive to the open sharing of ideas.