Pro Vita 2013: A Period
Comic strips have changed since the days of “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Garfield.” Today’s alternative comics, from “Life Is Hell” to “Maakies” to “Underworld,” express uniquely personal and edgy humor. In this class, we will survey the evolution of comic strips from their earliest days to the present, while creating our own multi-paneled strip. In five days, students will create characters and a setting, develop a narrative, and complete a side-splittingly hilarious comic. No drawing skills necessary!
JEAN MAHER AND PIETER MULDER
The hit TV show Glee continues to grow its audience each week with cast members riding the crest of fame into even bigger entertainment careers. Come ride that same wave with Mrs. Maher and Mr. Mulder in Pro Glee-ta! For a change this year, we’re going to plug in, add a few backing instruments to our rock-solid vocals, and build a band that’s ready to rock a three-song set in front of the school on Saturday morning of Pro Vita week. We’ll cover some current hits (think Some Nights by Fun) and have a blast doing it. No prior singing experience is required or assumed. Instead, sign up if you’ve always dreamed of singing with a group and performing live in front of your friends. Will Schuester (Mr. Mulder in sweater vest) and Sue Sylvester (Mrs. Maher in matching track suit) are counting on you!
RADIO FREE BERKSHIRE PODCASTING
ED SURJAN AND CLIVE DAVIS
Create podcasts that can be played on demand anytime, anywhere online! Discover how to easily produce, record and edit your own shows or programs using audio editing and podcasting apps. Students will learn a variety of audio engineering techniques including the use of fades, compression, EQ, and how to record with a microphone. With specific themes, student groups will create episodic material, focused around Pro Vita but encompassing anything from Berkshire athletics to live class discussions. These podcasts will be aired live on Berkshire’s own WBSL.
Culture, Literature, and Society
LET ME IN, LET ME OUT
JULIA COHAN AND DEMPSEY QUINN
What…why…how? Are criminals truly psychotic, or are they victims of poor choices that will forever change their lives? What motivates an individual to commit a violent crime? Is there hope for non-violent criminals to one day return to their families and live “normal lives”? In an attempt to answer these questions, we will explore the topics of psychopathy and criminal justice through a variety of sources, including face-to-face interviews with incarcerated men and women. We will consider models for lowering recidivism and discuss what can be done to aid in criminals’ return to society.
Student enrollment limited to sixth formers.
2%: WOMEN AND ADVERTISING
RUTH FISH AND ELIZABETH SKOGLUND
The average woman is bombarded with 400-600 gender-targeted advertisements on a daily basis. What impact does this have on body image and self-worth in our culture? These messages celebrate youth, beauty, and women as sexual objects. Although these advertisements only emphasize the ideal woman implicitly, the messages are internalized. According to a Dove study, only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. 2%! How can we empower our youth and encourage both men and women to fight back against these archaic ideals? This course will examine the frightening messages we as a society receive on a daily basis, and how to challenge this distorted yet all too common perspective.
This is not a course about the New Orleans Saints. Nor is it about the Siena Saints. It’s about the great saints of medieval times that helped shape Christian theology: St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Each has made his own distinctive mark on the history of the church, on the history of philosophy, and thus on the history of the world. But this course is not a history course either. It’s a philosophy course where we will use primary texts from these three thinkers to explore such topics as the nature of free will, the origin of the universe, and, of course, the existence of God.
Pop music fans argue passionately about which diva dominates: Katy? T-Swift? Beyonce? Lady Gaga? Kei$ha? Pink? Of course, the question of dominant divas deals with many elements, not simply the issue of who sings the best songs. Wrapped up in the whole notion of pop diva are issues of musical genre & influences; media coverage and marketing appeals; and self-presentation, both personal and virtual. Pick a diva, dig a little deeper, and you will come to recognize that any given superstar is a complicated construction, tying together her own musical talents and instincts; the commercial interests of a vast web of involved parties; and the wants and needs of an amorphous segment of the national, and international, population. Our goal is to compare the different strands of creation, distribution and consumption related to two different divas.
IT’S A BIRD…IT’S A PLANE…IT’S A TEACHER?
DANA ANSELMI AND KELLEY BOGARDUS
Were you academically prepared for Berkshire? Are schools in America preparing kids for the world beyond? Have you ever thought about how much politics dictate school reform? How much emphasis should local government place on education? In order to answer these and other questions, students will collaborate to better understand their educational communities in their home towns, in Sheffield, and at Berkshire. After viewing the documentary Waiting for Superman, hearing from local educators, and discussing key issues confronting our schools, students will address the roles teachers can play and the challenges they face.
THE LITERATURE, ART AND LIFE SKILL OF FLY FISHING
MICHAEL BJURLIN AND DAN SKOGLUND
The greatest American short story ever written, Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” has at its center the sport of fly fishing. This class will investigate the rich literary and artistic traditions of fly fishing in America, balancing a rigorous reading program and classroom discussion with fly casting instruction. In addition to Hemingway’s masterpiece, Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It will be an important part of the class’s work. This course promises to be quite a catch!
Begun in 1984, TED is a non-profit that brings together professionals from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design. They are best known for their TED talks, which are all readily available on the internet. TED’s website says they are “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading,” and oftentimes those ideas are pertinent to our everyday lives, so what better place to watch, discuss, and make TED videos than in a Pro Vita classroom?! This class will focus on how and why these talks are successful: what does the speaker use for content? What makes an interesting subject? How does a speaker present their information and insight? Why are some more successful than others in communicating their ideas? After pondering these questions and others, we’ll work on our own TED videos, and hopefully share some ideas worth spreading with our community here at Berkshire.
History, Politics, and Current Events
ANDREW BOGARDUS AND DAVID OLSON
San Francisco. Detroit. Las Vegas. Pittsburgh. Undoubtedly, these are familiar cities, each associated with its own unique identity. What may not be as well known is that each of these cities burst forth because they successfully exploited an incredibly specified financial niche. For every San Francisco, there are ten versions of Berlin, New Hampshire and Graysonia, Arkansas, who failed to maintain their initial success as times changed. This course will use the history of specific cities as case studies, examine the connection between geography and economy, and define sustainability in terms of cities and economies, leaving each student with the tools to make informed decisions in the governance and direction of his or her own community.
CHINA: THE ROARING DRAGON
As the world’s second largest economy, China wields incredible influence in the global marketplace. How did this come to be? Through a study of its history, culture, and political system, students will gain an appreciation and understanding of this country’s storied development. After discussing the issues facing China today and its unique relationship with the United States, students will practice Chinese calligraphy and preparing traditional Chinese food. The class will culminate with student presentations of a research project on a topic of interest.
JENNIFER ANDERSON AND DONALD ANSELMI
The word genocide evokes some of history’s most tragic and significant events; The Holocaust and Hutu and Tutsi conflict in Rwanda are just two of the more infamous incidents. Using Brown University's Choices Program, students will discuss and establish a definition of genocide, examine historical genocides, explore more recent cases and analyze the US government’s response to each of these. In addition, we will discuss current politicians’ differing approaches to the issue of genocide and, through a summit, address how best to stop these atrocities from occurring again.
DON’T VOTE FOR HIM: HE HATES PUPPIES
We will use the 2012 Presidential campaign as primary source material to discuss modern political advertisements, both negative and positive, and their effect on elections. After a thorough analysis, students will work in groups to produce their own political advertisement. Throughout the process, students will gain a better sense of the modern political communication environment, why campaigns communicate with us in the way they do, and get a sense of how to create, produce and complete a modern political ad. By the end of this course, students will watch political advertisements with a more critical eye and have a better sense of the entire political environment when they go in to cast their ballot.
THE FORGOTTEN WAR
Called “the forgotten war” by some, this course will focus on the Pacific Theater of World War II. Noted by author Hugh Ambrose for its “savage fighting, racial hatred, and a challenging natural environment unlike anything seen on the European front,” we will examine the concept of the “good war,” the rules of war, and how the Pacific Theater was portrayed on the home front. We will study sections of the historically accurate HBO miniseries The Pacific and read excerpts from several firsthand accounts to initiate our discussions.
Why has soccer, a simple game of modest origins, become such a dominant and influential force around the globe? By viewing segments of a six-part documentary series called History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game and reading portions of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World, participants in this course will explore the history, evolution, and impact of the game of soccer around the globe. Participants will have an opportunity each day to play futsal, a version of soccer in which creativity, improvisation, and technique are emphasized. Made popular on the streets of Brazil, futsal gave birth to a new and beautiful style of play, one which Pelé would later coin joga bonito.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BADGE
Each of us may have to depend on a firefighter or police officer in a moment of crisis in our life. What goes through the emergency responder’s mind in a moment of crisis? This course will introduce you to the training and psyche of these brave professionals. A graduate of Framingham State Police Academy and the Baltimore Police Academy, Mr. Gulotta will present an overview of the skills necessary to become an officer. After initial training, you will explore real-life emergency situations and will undoubtedly renew your appreciation for the great service emergency responders provide our communities.
SPORTS AND POLITICS
Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and the Miracle on Ice: What do these major athletic figures and events teach us about the social and political climate of their time? In this course we will examine various periods of U.S. history through the lens of major athletic events. Joe Louis’ victory over the German, Max Schmeling, in a turbulent pre-WWII era; Jesse Owens’ Olympic triumph in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics; the defeat of the Russians by the U.S. men’s hockey team at the height of the Cold War. These events, and others, provide unique insight into our nation’s history.
Math and Science
ALICE AND THE GAME OF PROGRAMMING
Located in cellphones, microwaves, refrigerators, cars, dams, solar fields, and even prosthetic limbs, computers have become ubiquitous. Have you ever wondered how a machine using just ones and zeros is capable of doing all of these tasks? Using Carnegie Mellon University’s 3-D programming environment, Alice, we’ll explore the world of computer programming and learn about the human design behind these technological masterpieces. By the end of the course, you will be able to manipulate 3-D objects in your own digital world and code an interactive game. Although only an introduction to computer science, this course will provide the tools to further your own study and to understand the computer as a tool, not just a magical box.
MAKING, BRANDING, AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND MINERAL COSMETICS
Organic, gluten-free, low-calorie, all natural. We spend so much time contemplating what we put in our bodies yet, most of us, spend very little time what we put on our skin, the largest organ of the human body. Educating yourself about the purpose and composition of products applied to the skin can help you preserve your natural beauty, avoid acne or allergic reactions, and save money. All-natural mineral cosmetics have exploded into popular culture and are used by millions of people world-wide. What are they all about? By the end of this class, you will know all about mineral cosmetics, mineral make- up composition and the basics of formulating your own custom mineral cosmetics.
MIND, BODY, AND SCHEDULE
Why do we have study hall from 8-10 pm and sports from 3-5 pm? Are mid-year and end-of-the-year assessments necessary? Is summer vacation a benefit or a hindrance to your learning? Recent studies have highlighted multiple concerns regarding the traditional American high school schedule. Students will take a comprehensive look at the development of the adolescent mind using MRI images and brain models. We will also discuss the physical transformation of your brain from the age of 13 to 25. After gaining an understanding of the phases of development, students will break into small groups to design more appropriate schedules to nurture the growth of the teenage mind.
NATURE VS. NURTURE: ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
Ample research has shown that animals are rational beings and that they also share with us many other traits that were once thought to be uniquely human, including manufacturing and using tools, having culture, having a sense of self, using complex systems of communication, producing art, and having rich and deep emotional lives. This course will study the interesting behavior of some species of animals, and whether these behaviors are learned or innate. We will learn about music appreciation in animals, complex hunting techniques in chimpanzees, practical sheep behavior, the “emotional” lives of cows, and other intriguing aspects of animal behavior.
ANDREW D’AMBROSIO AND PETER QUILTY
Defined as a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation, Rube Goldberg contraptions satirize the numerous machines around us. This class will make the simple complex and the mundane exciting as students work collaboratively to physically create a machine that will perform an easy task in as many steps as possible.
TANGRAMS, RUBIK’S CUBES, AND MATH
While you might not always realize it, there is so much more to mathematics than proofs and problems. We will explore a number of fun applications of math using 2-D games such as tangrams and 3-D puzzles like the Rubik’s Cube. We will also examine the intersection of mathematics and art using the golden ratio and fractal geometry. Finally, we’ll explore how math has been used to cheat the system, including counting cards. Math really is everywhere, and we will explore some of its many uses and the beauty it creates.
TOUR DE SOL: SOLAR POWER
How does a solar panel transform a ray of sunlight into the electricity cooling your common room’s fridge? What determines how effective a solar panel is at producing that electricity? Using Berkshire’s own 8.5-acre solar array on East Campus, we will examine these questions and more, build scale models, and meet with local experts in the field. After learning the fundamentals of a simple circuit, students will design and build a model race car powered by solar cells. On the last day of class, students will test out their racer designs in a solar-powered race.
JEAN ERICK JOASSAINT
Haïti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyane française, Sainte-Lucie, Dominique, Île Maurice, Île de la Réunion, Saint Barth, Les Seychelles, and Lousiana: What do these places have in common? The Créole language and culture, of course! There are millions of Créole speakers worldwide, yet only a few colleges and universities in the U.S. teach Créole as a foreign language. In this course we will explore the linguistic origins of Créole to understand the differences between the Créole spoken in Louisiana and that spoken in Haiti or Cuba. We will then look at the language as a cultural and historical vehicle. From that point on, the immersion begins and only Créole will be spoken using conversation drills and role plays.
Pro Vita Legal Potpourri
This course will cover a range of common legal issues students are likely to experience directly (or indirectly) as they transition from living at home to college. Contracts, leases, credit cards, small claims, Intellectual Property (trademarks, copyright and patents), online privacy, online rights, law school, legal research and more. Using a mixed format including lectures, guest speakers, short case studies, light reading, interactive client representation moot (practice) court, videos, role playing and lots of Q&A, you’ll pick up tips sure to save you time, money and avoid unnecessary emotional distress in the future. Plain language, no legal experience required.
A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is an adaptation of the sweat bath common to many ethnic cultures found in North and South America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Africa. Some say it is a tradition that is thousands of years old. The Sweat Lodge is a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for needed wisdom and power. Spend the week learning about the various types of lodges and the rituals involved. The week will culminate with an actual sweat in a Cheyenne Little Boy Lodge. Come delve into the spirit world!
THE TOUGHEST JOB YOU’LL EVER LOVE
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believes that 925 million people are undernourished in the world. According to the World Health Organization, 1.8 million deaths a year can be attributed to a lack of a sanitary water supply. These are preventable issues that the Peace Corps is addressing using American volunteers. Using Peace Corps’ Webquest Program, students will choose a development topic ranging from closing the gender gap to improving environmental sustainability, perform guided research and analysis, generate their own suggestions for the Peace Corps, and present their findings to the class. Students will also follow a current Peace Corp volunteer’s blog throughout the week. By the end of the course, students will understand the mission of the Peace Corps, have a good understanding of what often appear to be intractable issues, and may have already prepared an application to join the effort to help humanity.
THE VIEW FROM THE PARTHENON
Our school motto, in fact our Pro Vita week, is hotly contested in both translation and pronunciation. Come to Dr. Merrill’s introduction to Ancient Greek class and learn components of this 2-millennia-old language. In addition, the course will combine the study of Greek with a look at some important cultural elements of the ancient Greek world that have had a profound impact on Western culture, including art, architecture, and literature. Each class will include a brief lesson in basic Classical Greek and the balance of the class will focus on Greek culture and its influence. Pro Wita?