Academics: A Multidisciplinary Approach

If there is a word that describes the process of learning at Bay, it’s expansive.


Our students learn that the line between problem and answer is never straight, and our methods bring them face-to-face with questions that often have no easy answers. We believe that knowledge is a process, not an endpoint, and we design our curriculum accordingly.

Walk into any Bay class and you’ll find topics being examined in a variety of ways. In the Product Design class, an aspiring engineer will learn to clearly document their steps in designing a weather covering for a wheelchair. A young biochemist will learn the importance of writing highly detailed lab reports. 

Knowledge is a process, not an endpoint.

Beginning in 9th grade with courses such as the Creative Process and Conceptual Physics, students are challenged to define a problem, investigate it from multiple angles, and articulate and test a variety of answers. These process-based skills are integrated and deepened across the four-year academic arc at Bay. We encourage students to find their range, and our graduates enter the world with a problem-solving mindset and our six essential transferable skills:

  1. Communication
  2. Collaboration
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Creative thinking
  5. Academic skills and responsibility
  6. Ownership of learning

The coursework grows from a skills- and inquiry-based approach in the 9th and 10th grades to an increasing focus on the requirements for college admission and the specific interests of each student in grades 11 and 12. The Bay School's graduation requirements allow students to meet or exceed admission requirements for the University of California and all other colleges and universities they may consider. 

Collaborative and Project-Driven 

Students begin to work collaboratively from the start. Collaboration is explicitly taught in 9th grade courses so that students grasp the skills to create a finished product that represents multiple contributions. They continue to build these abilities as they move into more complex coursework that demands project management, iterative thinking, and the ability to hear diverse perspectives.

Project-driven work supports multidisciplinary learning and is a key component of many Bay classes. Projects at Bay are not simply a final assignment in a unit: many courses are shaped around an essential question, and the project allows students to build a comprehensive response to that question throughout the term. As one teacher puts it, “Projects are the meal, not the dessert.”

Grounded in Ethics and a Mindful Approach 

Bay intentionally focuses on helping students to develop ethical frameworks in formal and informal ways. Many classes ask students to consider social and political issues from a variety of perspectives, and our teachers help them develop as broad thinkers capable of forming educated opinions for themselves. Through consistent collaboration and discussion-based Humanities courses, students learn to know themselves and others, and their curiosity is sparked to delve deeper. 

All Bay students are required to take Civics in 10th grade as well as a religion or philosophy course to graduate. These classes focus heavily on how we make decisions in all aspects of our lives and how our decisions continually shape society.

Mindfulness—bringing awareness to what is happening internally and externally—is practiced at Morning Meeting and sets the stage for students to enter their classes with greater patience, focus, and resilience. It helps them to become skilled listeners and discerning learners.