The 7 Tasks of Adolescence

The Sage School’s curriculum is designed to use the best knowledge and resources of our times- from our understandings of science and the social sciences- in order to help students explore their own journey from the edge of adolescence (6th grade) to the edge of adulthood (12th grade). The 7 curriculum tasks that follow form the foundation of students’ self-awareness, community responsibility, and sense of place.

We honor adolescence as a critical developmental window for learning essential academic, cognitive, social, and emotional skills; the 7 tasks are the means to deliver that.

  1. Understanding the Self

    Students begin their journey into adolescence by honing one of the very skills adolescence is known for: self-awareness. Students look at their construction of self through the creation of their autobiographies, family histories, and personal connections to American History. They begin to consciously situate themselves into the surrounding world.
  2. Understanding the Ancients

    Students continue their journey studying the Ancient World- from the foundations of our culture to historical understandings of STEM to cross-cultural studies of ways of looking at the world. This study further situates each student’s understanding of self into an even wider lens.
  3. Understanding Social Systems

    As students move into a more social phase of adolescence, their curriculum mirrors their own journey. Students look at their brain development as well as the history and psychology that define us as a species. Using the best science and social science research, they deconstruct our social interactions.
  4. Understanding Ecological Systems

    As students understand increasingly complex relationships, students turn their energies towards looking at our relationship with natural systems, from a local to a global perspective. Students move into utilizing systems thinking principles as their brains are developing the capacities to do increasingly complex reasoning.
  5. Understanding Modern Systems

    Students continue to explore systems thinking by looking at the modern world- from food production to energy consumption to resource use. Students understand and evaluate the many relationships and interactions it takes to create our modern society.
  6. Understanding the American System

    As students are getting closer to voting age and ready to assume responsibilities of citizenship, they turn their attention to the governmental system they reside in. Students spend this year focused on looking at systems surrounding being an American- from our understandings of justice to living in the west to the foundations of our government.
  7. Understanding the Global System

    Seniors are getting ready to face the world. We spend students’ final year examining current global issues, designing an independent curriculum, and culminating with an immersive field study in Ecuador to ‘put it all together’.

Other terms to help understand The Sage School’s Curriculum Charts:

Field Studies

Students spend 5 weeks a year engaged in study on our ‘extended campus’: Idaho and the West. They further their understandings of the curriculum by engaging studies of the Oregon Trail, energy use, human rights, or food production with regional experts.

Human Ecology

Our largest period of time in our daily schedule, Human Ecology is a class designed to engage in an interdisciplinary study of human beings and their natural, social, and built environments. It is primarily an integration of the disciplines of history and science in which we focus on the tasks of helping adolescents understand themselves, their community, and their environment.


TAD is the title of a course that is part of Human Ecology. It is the phase of our study where students engage a hands-on component to each of our tasks. We may make movies, produce plays, construct to-scale models, or create some other artistic representations. Students gain both skills of content and production.


CAB is our weekly commitment to service in our community. Each student spends 2 hours per week of our school-time engaged in a service-based activity.


OWL is a national model for teaching an immersion-based Spanish curriculum. It is how Spanish is taught at Sage.


ALEKS is our on-line, interactive, self-paced math program. It stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces and is designed by 3 professors focused on mathematical cognitive science.


Every Friday, students engage a 2-hour study of their own choosing. They may choose a Creativity Workshop that the faculty designs to explore their own creative natures- from building a longboard to knitting to glee club to digital video production, and more. Students may, alternatively, create their own Independent Study in which they design a course to meet a set of requirements handed out at the beginning of each trimester.

Stages of Adolescence/Sage School Bands

The Explorer: 6th and 7th Grade students

The Social Animal: 8th and 9th Grade students

The Apprentice: 10th and 11th Grade students

The Global Citizen: 12th Grade students