Academic Philosophy

A Lawrenceville education builds on a tradition of intellectual and civic engagement and prepares students to be responsible leaders in the 21st century. Ever since James Cameron Mackenzie championed the House system in the 1890s and Edward Harkness and Allan Heely implemented discussion-based, Harkness teaching in the 1930s, a Lawrenceville education has been marked by close faculty-student interactions and deep intellectual engagement. Lawrenceville faculty members are expert in their disciplines and committed to teaching well. They work closely with students to help them discover and develop their intellectual passions and think critically and creatively about the world around them and about the challenges and opportunities before them.

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Academic advisors—faculty members associated with or living in the Houses—help students choose their course load. These consultations focus on the overall degree of difficulty of the schedule, concerns about adjusting to the rigors of the School’s curriculum, and commitments to athletic or extracurricular activities. In addition to traditional academic courses, Lawrenceville students are required to meet other important educational obligations, including the following:

community service

Part of becoming an educated citizen means knowing how to contribute to society in order to make the world a better place to live. Therefore, students fulfill a 40-hour community service requirement for graduation. Students often find that the hours they spend in community service are among their most fulfilling activities at the School. The Community Service Program is staffed with a director who coordinates relationships with local social outreach organizations to create both on- and off-campus service projects. Transportation is provided for students involved in off-campus service projects.

humanities

Employing literature, history, art, and religion, this Second Form course enables students to learn how these disciplines interact and have a critical impact on the human condition. Students will look at a wide variety of cultures and epochs (Greco-Roman, India, and China) and develop skills in writing, grammar, reading, visual interpretation, computer literacy, and library research. In this foundational course of study, attention is given to developing the necessary skills and habits of mind to take full advantage of the Harkness Table. The Harkness Table has been a feature of the Lawrenceville classroom for over seventy years, but learning through discussion rather than lecture is a new experience for many students.

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Personal Development Seminar

As a residential community, Lawrenceville takes seriously the concerns and challenges facing adolescents, and therefore requires Third and Second Formers to take a multi-week seminar designed to help them discuss issues ranging from friendship to sexuality to substance abuse to stress—with the goal of helping them make healthy decisions.


Reports

Full academic reports are sent home at the end of each trimester; interim reports are sent in the middle of each trimester. Reports include comments and grades from each teacher, indicating the student’s accomplishment, effort, and attitude. Interim reports are brief evaluations of the student’s academic situation at mid-term without specific grades. In addition to the formal reporting system in the middle and at the end of each term, teachers relay information about a student’s academic progress, both good and bad, to the adviser, Housemaster and the Academic Dean through reports called Academic Memos, sent at the discretion of each teacher throughout the term.