The humanities program at Synapse is developed around the concept of cultural literacy. Synapse values depth in understanding over breadth in knowledge, and has identified core moments or periods in history for deeper exploration. The humanities curriculum rotates in a two year cycle of World History and U.S. History, and is often fueled by the lens of the annual change maker and theme. As students grow through the program, additional perspectives and layers provide an opportunity for students to reevaluate their background knowledge and assumptions.
Students are encouraged to build awareness of not just the world around them, but of their place in it as citizens and agents of change. Synapse aims to educate empathetic, critical and creative thinkers who consider people, events and milestones in order to inform and choose their own path to cultural literacy.


Synapse Humanities Program Highlights


Inquiry-based creative projects that allow students to draw on personal experiences.

Cross-curricular integration, inspiring connections and student-driven inquiry.

Opportunity to experience various perspectives and understand the driving factors of decisions (e.g. motivations, thoughts, feelings, etc) through simulation.

Exploration of ethical and moral dilemmas.

Explicit active reading strategies with an emphasis on analysis of primary and secondary sources as well as supporting literature for each topic.

Utilizing Synapse’s EQ language and SEL competencies to reflect on and communicate student experiences.


Middle School Program Overview

Humanities HEARTS: Investigating Core Moments or Periods in History

Grades 5/6 -- World History 

  • Global Migration, Resilient Change Maker (focused on the year’s change maker, ie Desmond Tutu in 2020-21), Student-Inspired Study
  • Immigration in the Bay Area, Abolition of Slavery, Civil Rights

Grades 7/8 -- Contemporary World History and U.S. Government 

  • 20th Century Events and Globalization
  • Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches 
Writer’s Workshop: Integrating Cross-Curricular Writing
  • Throughout the year, students focus on three types of writing: expository, persuasive, and narrative; with an additional unit on poetry.
Literature Circle
  • Electives for small-group, theme-based discussions around a shared text.