Category: Humanities

Weekly Reports – Humanities, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week four, we spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few.

I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside. For when he returned, according to Plato, and tried revealing Truth to the others, he’d be killed. They really enjoyed the play acting and no students (or teachers) were harmed in the making of the cave.

At the end of the week, we continued with Plato’s concepts of Utopia and what Utopia actually means. The students brought up ideas such as socialism, capitalism, and communism. Again I let them debate with on the idea of the Philosopher-King and the caste system.

In week five, we began with the introduction of Aristotle. We discussed his history and his concepts of the Unmovable Mover. We also discussed Aristotle’s influence during the Middle Ages due to the Muslim world and his reintroduction to European thought through St. Thomas Aquinas. After Aristotle, we then moved to how the Romans adopted much of Greek culture.

 


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Three

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we finished our analysis of interstate conflict. We continued the evaluation of deterrence, which included students reading excerpts from chapters 5 and 6 from Arms and Influence. These chapters included problems facing long terms disarmament and the potential issues facing states who desire to deescalate a standoff between major powers. We evaluated intervention into conflicts regarding why states intervene, how the intervene, and the likelihood of success regarding mediation. We ended our discussion of interstate conflict by spending time addressing the current conflict with Iran and the continued conflict with North Korea. On Thursday we began our evaluation of intrastate conflict (civil conflict or civil war). We covered state failure and intrastate conflict onset and economic explanations for intrastate conflict onset. Students were assigned a reading from Leashing the Dogs of War entitled “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy.” On Friday students continued the state development project. Several students sent out spies, some students developed weapons programs, and other students worried about rebellions within their borders.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This week was devoted mostly to the topic of memory formation and especially to problems in memory.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what actually history is when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

The Sophists were introduced to set up Greek Philosophy for next week. The students made good analogies deciding that the Sophists, particularly Protagoris, were born far ahead of their time and would do very well in our modern society. We also talked about how most of what we know of them is from Plato, therefore one should always consider the source when looking at historical figures.  We introduced Socrates and I’m really sad that I have to teach him his ending next week. The kids really seem to love him so far.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We finished reading Utopia by Sir Thomas More. Students discussed big ideas from the book such as wealth, virtue, equality, justice, and symbolism. Students were assigned homework finding two symbols on the book and describing what those symbols represent. Next we began a project based on Utopia. Then we discussed the concept of the Social Contract. Students also began reading Lord of the Flies as a class and discussed foreshadowing. To close out the week, we took a quiz.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we wrapped the novel 1984. Students had their usual class discussion and also thought about how our world today is similar to the world in 1984.

 


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased with their results. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.

For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. I’m afraid that I might have burst the bubbles for many students who no longer want to run off and become Spartans.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We started the week with a quiz on the different types of government and the state of Nature. Students were suppose to have read Book I of Utopia, we conducted a discussion on that and various societal issues presented such as poverty, thievery, and begging. Further discussion was held on the nature of virtue, religion, morals, and human happiness. Discussion was also held on the value of money and currency and why it exists and how a Utopia could exist without currency. Students also related the law of Nature and aspects of virtue to the Utopians view and treatment of gold, silver, and other precious minerals. The Utopia Project was introduced and students were asked to create 3 groups, each being responsible for a different project.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we got into the meat of our anchor text,1984. The students handled mature topics with grace and rigorous thought. We also discussed the value of tradition in society and what happens to reality when the truth is overwritten with lies. This week your student also got to use their creative side and create a thematic poster. Their poster had to reflect 1-2 themes they thought were present in the novel. Ask them what they put on theirs!!

 

 


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos and Mycenae. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archaeology and art history can help fill in the gaps. The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

 

 


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Six

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

For this week, we spent a great deal of time discussing some of Aristotle’s theories, such as the Theory of Potentiality and his concept of the Unmoved Mover. The class decided that Aristotle would have loved modern science and especially quantum physics. We also had fun when we discussed Aristotle’s ideas of Syllogism; the idea that if A=B and B=C, then A=C. The students had a lot of fun coming up with their own ‘truths’ through the use of syllogism.

For the second half of the week, we had fun with talking about the birth of the Roman republic. This is when I wish the class could be 14 weeks long! They adored talking about the Romans. Sadly though, we could only go as far as the Triumvirate before the week was finished. All in all, the kids were highly enthusiastic about history and social studies in general which makes it a blast to teach!

 

 

Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

We finished discussions on the 14th Amendment and discrimination. We began evaluating voting rights. Students learned that voting rights primarily come from amendments to the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. We examined the 15th, 17th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. We also discussed issues like voter ID laws and the circumstances surrounding and effects of the Bush v. Gore decision.

This week we discussed the 14th Amendment “equal protection” clause and its application to voting rights. Discussions focused on the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution; the Voting Rights Act; gerrymandering, and state voting laws. The students took a 1963 Louisiana voting literacy test to see if they would have been able to vote prior to the Voting Rights Act. We dissected the current session rulings in Abbott v. Perez, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Gill v. Whitford. We closed out the week watching “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which centers on Edward R. Murrow’s responses to McCarthyism and the importance of an independent press. Cases examined: Shelby County v. Holder, Citizens United v. F.E.C., Crawford v. Marion County, McCutcheon v. F.E.C., Reynolds v. Sims, Miller v. Johnson, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, Gill v. Whitford, and Abbott v. Perez.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Four

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week, we spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few. I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside. For when he returned, according to Plato, and tried revealing Truth to the others, he’d be killed. They really enjoyed the play acting and no students (or teachers) were harmed in the making of the cave. At the end of the week, we continued with Plato’s concepts of Utopia and what Utopia actually means. The students brought up ideas such as socialism, capitalism, and communism. Again I let them debate with on the idea of the Philosopher-King and the caste system.

 

 

Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week we covered the 14th Amendment “due process” clause and “equal protection” clause. Students learned about substantive due process and the rights formed from interpretations of the “due process” clause (privacy; procreation; marriage; private, consensual adult sexual relationships; and abortion). We also began an evaluation of civil rights with a focus on discrimination and the “equal protection clause.” Additionally, students watched documentaries on religious freedom and school integration. Documentaries watched this week included: “First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty” by PBS and “Frontline – Separate and Unequal” by PBS. Cases discussed this week included: Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Skinner v. Oklahoma, Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education (I and II), Grutter v. Bolinger, Fisher v. Texas (I and II), etc.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. Figures such as Solon and Clisthenes were also introduced. The Persian War was discussed at length including the battles of Marathon and the one at Thermopylae ten years later. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what actually history is when we only know it through the lens of the victors. The Sophists were introduced to set up Greek Philosophy for next week. The students made good analogies deciding that the Sophists, particularly Protagoris, were born far ahead of their time and would do very well in our modern society. We also talked about how most of what we know of them is from Plato, therefore one should always consider the source when looking at historical figures.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we finished up A Wrinkle in Time, read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People,” along with getting down to business with our Utopia projects. We had great discussions, worked on inflection by reading the O’Connor piece aloud, and overcame a few obstacles by working to perfect our visions of what Utopia is like.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we began reading 1984 and having discussions in class. Monday we took a quiz on the first chapter and continued reading ~a chapter/day. We had a writing assignment which was to write a journal entry like Winston’s that used Newspeak and tried to imagine what life was like in Airstrip One.

 

Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week we finished the 1st Amendment rights. The class discussed freedom of the press, defamation, obscenity, and the intersection between technology and speech. Cases covered included: Near v. Minnesota, New York Times v. United States, New York Times v. Sullivan, Hustler v. Falwell, Miller v. California, Brown v. Entertainment merchants Association, Reno v. ACLU, and Ashcroft v. ACLU (I and II). We ended the week with a discussion of the 2nd Amendment with a special focus placed on D.C. v. Heller.


Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks Three and Four

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for the previous two weeks of the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week Three:

At the beginning of the week, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. Figures such as Solon and Clisthenes were also introduced.


The Persian War was discussed at length including the battles of Marathon and the one at Thermopylae ten years later. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what is history when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

Week Four:

Although it was a short week, we made great headway in Greek philosophy. We spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few. To introduce Plato, I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside.

 

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we continued working on making connections between dystopian societies in literature and civics/government/class/technology issues in contemporary society.

Week Four:

This week we discussed the beginning of Brave New World, as well as upcoming Utopia Projects. Because our plan is to finish the novel by next Thursday we also spent a class time reading. As a reward for working hard this week (and also to attempt to teach them to stop talking OVER each other) we played a game modeled after the 60’s game show Password.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we wrapped up discussing 1984. This included discussing Emmanuel Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, which led to fruitful discussions about the cyclical nature of history, economic theory, and the notion of perpetual war. Admittedly, the class did not enjoy the novel as a whole, though they seem to understand why it remains relevant and why it should be read and discussed. The students sat for an essay exam on the book on Wednesday. While they tell me the exam was challenging and difficult, I expect they are either being modest or attempting to assuage my ego, since I wrote the test questions. It was another good week. Students continue to impress. Next week will begin with a discussion of “The Lottery in Babylon” by Jorge Luis Borges, and I will also distribute copies of our next major text, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Week Four:

Our week began with a discussion of the Jorge Luis Borges story “The Lottery in Babylon.” Borges is a notoriously arcane writer and I’m always a little nervous how well the students will grapple with him, but they did an exemplary job and we had a good discussion about this short story. We then started reading and discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is a novel-of-dystopia in the tradition of 1984 and Brave New World. To my knowledge, The Handmaid’s Tale has never been taught at the Governor’s Program, and with this in mind I’ve asked students to serve in an advisory role and be honest about how much they’re enjoying the reading experience. While I don’t believe that literary fiction has to be wildly entertaining, I also realize that an engaging text is far more instructive than a tedious one. So far, students claim to be enjoying the book, though some of them have minor squabbles about Atwood’s style.


Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks One and Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for the first two weeks of the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week One:
On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. I also gave them a cheat sheet of sorts that they can use for their cursive handwriting. I have been tremendously proud of them and have told them that they have better handwriting than my high school students.


Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archeology and art history can help fill in the gaps.


The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. We discussed the Greek hero and what were considered the most desirable traits for a Greek. They agreed that it was different from today’s standards. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

Week Two:

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased, though some of the students might not be. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.


For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. We also looked at history in Hollywood and how the subject fares in the medium of cinema. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta.

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week One:

This week we set foundations for the course, discussed Utopia as an ideal and how that ideal fails when applied in real life. We read some short stories in the genre and discussed matters of justice and morality. We also discussed the historical context of the stories and how literature can serve as the window into studying any one time or period.

Week Two:

This week we worked on more dystopian literature. We finished reading the second part of Fahrenheit 451, as well as two short stories. We discussed some parallels between these “future worlds” and our own. Finally, we continued applying some of the issues regarding equality, freedom, social justice, and civics as we moved forward to begin designing our own utopia.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week One:

Class began in earnest on Tuesday when we discussed dystopia and utopia within the context of the “GPGC Canon.” The students talked about the texts they’ve read during previous summers: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver, and how these books have helped inform their understanding of real-world dictatorships and totalitarian states. As usual, the students are able to discuss grave subjects in a very mature, intelligent, incisive and often humorous manner. On Wednesday, students received their copies of 1984 and we discussed the historical backdrop against which Orwell wrote both 1984 and Animal Farm. We also talked more generally about why speculative dystopian fiction remains so popular in the West. On Thursday, we discussed the first four chapters of 1984. Popular topics from that discussion include the idea of conformity, surveillance, and whether our society, like Oceania’s, has become too desensitized to violence and human suffering (the students say “no”). On Friday, students presented on Donald Barthelme’s “I Bought a Little City.”

Week Two:

The students spent Monday finishing their individual presentations on “I Bought A Little City” by Donald Barthelme. Tuesday through Thursday were devoted to class discussion on 1984. These discussions are going well, although I’ve had to remind the class about providing textual evidence to support their comments about the novel. Recurring topics were the psychosexual development of Winston and Julia, Julia’s hedonism, competing epistemological philosophies and their relevance to a totalitarian state, and the relationship between language and thought. On Friday, we held a show trial or kangaroo court in class. I do this to demonstrate how arbitrary and absurd justice can be in a singleminded, totalitarian state. We tried Bronson Jordan for several heinous crimes, including murdering a Papa John’s delivery man, slapping a fellow student, stealing brain bucks, and using his editorial position on The Thinker to embarrass GPGC teachers. Naturally, he claims to be innocent. We will wrap up our discussion of 1984 next week and the students will sit for an essay exam on 1984 on Thursday or Friday.