Pro Vita 2014: B Period
Dear Diary...The Art of Creative Journaling
Throughout history, many successful artists, leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs have used journals to explore their wildest ideas and make the unimaginable reality. How can you use a journal to harness your creativity, get a handle on your fears and give voice to your dreams? In this class, you will learn to create a dynamic and exciting journal that will be a safe place for you to imagine, dream and find inspiration. We will use paint, collage and stamping to create beautiful journals, and we will look at new and exciting ways to approach journal writing to help maximize creativity and silence that inner critic!
Using fabrics, cardboard, wood, plastic, paint, and perhaps even twinkle lights, students will transform the School’s Art Gallery into something new, something unexpected, something magical! With two different periods working on one final project, the groups will collaboratively explore large-scale installation art, work to bring abstract ideas to reality, and tackle the challenges that confront artists as installations expand. The final project will be a giant three-dimensional, multi-sensory sculpture encompassing the entire gallery that completely alters the space—how we perceive it, how we walk through it, and how we experience it.
LEARN TO PLAY THE BAGPIPES
Want to learn how to play the iconic musical instrument of the Clans of the Highlands and one of the world’s oldest instruments? This course will introduce participants to the Great Highland Bagpipe, which is known as Piob Mhor. No musical experience required. Participants will need to purchase a practice chanter, which all pipers use to practice their tunes. By the end of the week participants should be able to work through tunes like Scots Wae Hae and Amazing Grace. During the week, students will have the opportunity to handle several types of pipes. Oh, and you don’t actually have to be Irish or Scottish, as bagpipes are played by peoples all over the globe.
Who are you? What is essential to your identity? How might that identity or essence be represented? In this class, we will explore the use of metaphor and symbol in works of art and how objects, space, and light can be utilized as stand-ins for qualities and characteristics that portray a person. Initiated through self-exploratory writing, students will develop an image that depicts who they are or aspects of themselves. In creating their metaphorical self-portrait, each student will decide their own approach in terms of painting, drawing, or collage/mixed media.
THE PLAY IS THE THING: FESTIVAL OF THEATER APPRECIATION
SUSIE NORRIS ’79
“All the world’s a stage, and the men and women are merely players.” So wrote William Shakespeare in his comedy As You Like It. In this theater appreciation course, we will cover the enduring value of Shakespeare in modern theater through a close study of two classic plays, a field trip, and a professional critique writing assignment. Students will consider how plays differ from other types of art and literature and discover the value of the performing arts while learning to think critically about plays as literature and as entertainment.
Culture, Literature and Society
LET ME IN, LET ME OUT (A and B Periods)
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.
BERKSHIRE’S KINGS OF STAND-UP
So you think you’re funny? Prove it over Pro Vita week in this course that will look at the art of stand-up comedy. Humor has been a part of performances for ages, but relatively recently in history it has developed into an art form of its own. We will look at many of the great comedians of the past century, study the techniques they use, and develop our own stand-up acts. Students will foster their public speaking skills and exercise a great deal of creativity in the process. The best acts may be shared with the School on Saturday morning. No matter what, this class is sure to leave you rolling in the aisle.
BURKAS TO BIKINIS: THE POLITICS OF DRESS
Do clothes make the person? What does what you wear say about who you are? Or does your outfit “say” anything about you? We will discover the world of clothes and clothes of the world from Burkas to bikinis. Where are your clothes made? How does fashion come into our shopping cart? After delving into our own closets and learning more about the psychology behind dress, we’ll tackle one of the hottest issues on campus: girls’ dress code. Ideally, students will finish the course prepared to present a revised dress code for Berkshire.
DEAR ME: THE ART OF THE LETTER
When was the last time that you wrote (or received) a handwritten letter? In this course, we will not only pick up paper and pen but also study letters as a mode of communication and a material object. Together we will read personal correspondences by celebrities such as JK Rowling, as well as letters exchanged between former Berkshire students. Other materials include dedicatory letters, forgeries, letters written in code, postcards, and self-addressed reflections. We will also explore how email, texting, and blogging have altered modern communication. We will examine correspondence through the lens of education, familial relationships, gender roles, romantic and platonic love, social life, travel, and politics.
FROM THE CLOSET TO THE SCREEN—BIG & SMALL
Given the prominent role that issues of sexuality identity and sexual preference occupy in society – same-sex marriage statutes have been debated in multiple states, Modern Family won the most recent Emmy for best comedy, and Macklemore had a hit with Same Love– you might think that Americans have always been open about these topics. Think again. Even Hollywood, which tends to be on the forefront of progressive causes, has had a complicated history in its representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered characters over the past century. Working from the groundbreaking study The Celluloid Closet, this class will investigate the various ways in which sexual minorities have been portrayed in film and consider the ways in which contemporary media portray sexual minorities today.
Do you want to know the history of hip-hop music? What are its merits within the communities of its origin? How has hip-hop been influenced by a hyper-masculine mainstream American society? This course examines the roles that hip-hop music and culture play in shaping contemporary American culture inside and outside of its ethnic places of its origin. Students will examine the roles played by music label executives in determining which images of hip-hop culture are marketed to the world and the rationale behind their decisions. Finally, students will meet a contemporary hip-hop artist and learn about his personal journey through the industry as well as his thoughts on some of the social topics discussed during the week.
"PRO VITA VICTUS LENTISSIMUS"– SLOW FOOD FOR LIFE
VALERIE AND WALTER LONG ’88
The world in which we live is changing at a rapid pace, and the jobs of today may be non-existent or greatly altered within the near future. The food we eat and the way it is produced has deep ties to our health, our economic prosperity, our environmental sustainability and our cultural interactions. Together with experts working on the front lines of the Slow Food Revolution, we will explore the growing importance of organic producers, environmentally sustainable business models, health impacts of the foods we consume, and the beauty of farm to table cuisine.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
GWYNETH CONNELL AND JESSE HOWARD
Human beings have been telling stories since they lived in caves. But some people are better at it than others... Why can some people tell you what they had for breakfast and have you hanging on their every word, while others can put you to sleep even when describing their most recent intergalactic space battle? In this class, you will listen to master storytellers, practice methods that will engage your audience, and find a story of your own worth telling. Finally, the collected stories of the group will be recorded as a podcast a la The Moth and This American Life. Live performances of selected stories may be included in the closing assembly on Saturday morning.
ZEN AND THE ART OF BICYCLE MAINTENANCE
“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive,” states Robert Pirsig’s narrator in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, an undeniably philosophical tome. Students will explore fundamental life questions asked in Pirsig’s novel with a slight twist: a focus on the bicycle, one of the most efficient modes of human transportation for traveling short to moderate distances. Students will examine how a bicycle works and the reality of tuning imperfectly shaped parts to create a two-wheel vehicle that allows one to effortlessly roll across campus safely and reliably. By engaging in a very mechanical activity, we will hopefully be able to deduce the intersection of rationality and artistry.
History, Politics, and Current Events
CRACKING THE CODE
Pro Vita What do these Egyptian hieroglyphics spell? Are you curious about how linguists used the Rosetta Stone to decipher a once-forgotten alphabet? How did these symbols evolve into our alphabet? After reviewing different types of writing systems – pictograph, syllabary, alphabet – we will proceed to study how some ancient writing systems were decoded. In this course, we will create rebuses, an essential development in the transition from pictograms to alphabets, and use transliteration exercises to map the relationship between systems. Finally, we will work together to create a visual representation of an idea.
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.
PERSON OF THE CENTURY
PAUL AND MAURA MACKENZIE
Barbara Walter’s recently declared Miley Cyrus one of the year’s most fascinating figures. Is she one of the most intriguing? One of the best? Of the year, the decade, the century? How does Time magazine select a person of the year? How should we? What criteria do we use and how do we define success? Who would be your leading candidates for person of the 20th century? On what basis would you evaluate their “goodness?” Can you develop a ranking system for good people? All of this and more will be considered in this class, as teams vie to have their candidate selected as the Best Person of the Century.
POWER OF THE PROFILE PORTRAIT
Queen Elizabeth. Ché Guevara. Marilyn Monroe. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jimi Hendrix. Bill Gates. What do all of these people have in common? Each is the subject of a world-renowned portrait. There are many powerful images of politicians, actors, artists, revolutionaries and other famous figures that have had a lasting effect on the world and that people associate with different ideas and movements. Students will not only study these images, but they will also dictate the track of the course by bringing in portraits of people that interest them. Students will walk away with a better understanding of the influence of media and marketing and a sense of why the people we discuss are famous in the eyes of the masses.
THE UNITED STATES: GOLIATH OR GOOD NEIGHBOR?
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States became the world’s sole superpower. This course will examine and assess the current involvement of the U.S. in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. The focus in class discussions will be on the role of the U.S. in the economic, political and cultural development of a global society in the 21st century. The goal of the course is for students to increase their awareness of the issues confronting the international community, to become better informed about U.S. involvement in these issues, and to enhance their knowledge of world geography.
W. E. B. DU BOIS: A MAN FOR THE AGES
SKIP MEADE AND NOAH FAISON ’16
The co-founder of the modern civil rights movement, the early leader of the Pan-African movement, the author of the Souls of Black Folk, and the first Black American to be awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard University, W. E. B. Du Bois began his illustrious career as the valedictorian of the class of 1886 at Great Barrington High School. One of the most influential and internationally acclaimed individuals of American society, Du Bois was born just up the road from Berkshire and much of his work was based upon his experiences in southern Berkshire County. Using a variety of media, including the archival collection from the Du Bois Library of the University of Massachusetts, we will explore this great man’s life and legacy and his lasting impact on the world today.
WHAT IS A HERO?
We all have heroes in our lives. Who are these heroes and what are their heroic qualities? Using several major heroes and heroines of Greek and Roman epic poetry--Achilles, Aeneas, Athena, and Odysseus-- we will examine how these iconic figures have influenced western European culture from antiquity and how they laid the foundation for the present day representation of a hero. We will look at specific passages from the Iliad, Aeneid and Odyssey, and we will use movie and television depictions of each epic poem to learn more about these protagonists. We will then discuss modern-day heroes and the many forms in which they come. Each student will choose a figure particularly heroic to him or her and present to the class on the final day.
Math and Science
PHYSIOLOGY AND NUTRITION OF SPORTS (A and B Periods)
DEVON AND JACKIE O’ROURKE
There will be two components to the course: classroom sessions and a “laboratory” in the form of a structured training program. The classroom component will introduce the students to the physics, chemistry, and biology of their own body systems. Daily readings and homework will be used to learn about major areas related to exercise physiology: cardiovascular training, strength training, injury prevention, nutrition and dietary supplements, and performance enhancing drugs (legal and illegal). Laboratory sessions will explore applications of each of these areas. The exercises are strictly regimented, and do not provide students with freedom to complete a routine of their choice.
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.
C any; our E. ADT his?... From the days of Caesar’s empire to current “secure” credit card transactions, encryption has enabled only permitted individuals to understand encoded messages. Yet encryption can be deciphered. The Allies were able to intercept and decode Enigma machine messages from the Third Reich during the Second World War. More recently, over 100 million credit card numbers were “skimmed” from a data processing center without anyone’s knowledge. Using mathematics, pattern recognition, and elemental ciphers, students will learn more about cryptography and its rich history, and finish the week generating and attempting to crack their own codes.
System.out.println(“Hello World!”); These are the first lines of code you’ll program in Java. Using Sun Microsystem’s omnipresent, object-oriented language, students will use tutorials available through Sun’s website to guide them through the process of creating Java programs. We will explore variables, data types, logic and Boolean operators and though some of the concepts are specific to Java, many are valid for generic programming. Students will finish the course by generating a simple animated game.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: AN EXPLORATION OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Berkshire’s campus is home to a vast and ever-expanding number of kids. How do they learn? What are they capable of at different ages? Students in this class will learn about child care and development with a focus on child interaction through play. They will learn developmental milestones in the areas of speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, socialization, and play. They will observe children and be expected to create developmentally appropriate activities for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. Led by a Berkshire mom, this class promises to be a joy for participants and subjects alike.
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.
MATH IN THE MOVIES
In Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon, in his role as a janitor at MIT, solves a complicated linear algebra problem left on the chalkboard. You can too with some guidance from Math Department Chair Kurt Schleunes. Students will watch clips from Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, Twenty-One, The Matrix and The Bank and study the mathematics involved in these classic "math movies." Topics covered will include probability, graph theory, the Zeta function, the Riemann Hypothesis, and matrices.
In the background of the alluring bright blue label are pristine glacier-covered mountains with the slogan “Purity Guaranteed” inscribed just below the company’s logo. Did you know, despite this image, that one out of four bottled waters sold in the U.S. is derived from a municipal water supply? Is the water in plastic bottles any different or any better than that coming from our faucets? Why should we care about using water in disposable plastic bottles? Is it harmful to us and to the environment? We will investigate how bottled water is packaged and marketed and why it has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the beverage industry. We will also test samples of bottled and non-bottled water to see if we can detect any differences.
JOHN WEST AND BRIAN SULLIVAN
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.
Professional and Personal Development
BEAR OF WALL STREET (A and B Periods)
Interested in a job in economics or finance? This course, held at the non-profit American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) in Great Barrington, will introduce students to economic and financial research through hands-on analysis. As a culminating project, students will submit either a short report (on the importance of Affordable Care Act, for example), a spreadsheet (formulating a model for financial asset valuation), or a list of steps they have taken in structuring economic analysis of the business cycles. Working closely with AIER research fellows, students will be immersed in the economic research process from “conception to completion,” enhancing their understanding of economic concepts, theories and real world applications.
BEHIND THE CAMERA: TOOLS, TECHNIQUES, AND TIPS
KEN GORDON '73
Electronic News Gathering (ENG) and Electronic Field Production (EFP) are the methods by which almost all visual information and entertainment are produced. From 30-second commercials to major feature films, the tools and techniques employed are identical, and we’ll cover how it’s done. By covering the video production process in detail, students will gain a better understanding and appreciation for all visual content and walk away with the skills and knowledge to produce a finished demo tape for talent, camera and/or editing.
BEYOND TAPE AND ICE
BRIAN LEWTON AND MARC WYSOCKI
Want to know what athletic trainers really do? This course will give students a better appreciation of how athletic trainers diagnose injuries, establish rehabilitation programs and handle emergency situations on the playing fields. Get to know the educational background and courses required of athletic trainers while getting hands-on experience with all the modalities (whirlpools and electric stimulation units), as well as emergency and rehabilitation equipment.