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Curriculum

Berkshire’s academic curriculum prepares students for college and beyond by offering a wide array of courses in Arts, Languages, History, Math, Science, and English. Our college prep curriculum is designed by Department Chairs and other academic leaders to advance our students intellectually and to help them become agile, independent thinkers. It is executed by a talented faculty that will continually challenge and inspire our students to become life long learners. Whether a student’s passion is physics, philosophy, or the performing arts, the Berkshire curriculum helps them pursue that passion as far as they are willing.

New Courses for 2019-2020

The following courses are being offered for during the 2019-2020 school year. 

History

LEADERSHIP: POLITICS AND SOCIETY
This course examines the revolutionary nature of female leadership across time and cultures. Students examine great female leaders throughout history, looking at specific powerful women who led groups of individuals for various political, cultural, and social reasons. We explore what it means to be a leader, how our understanding of that has/has not changed over time, as well as contemporary and historical narratives that shape our understanding of how society accepted/viewed these women. We compare their accomplishments with their contemporaries--men and women--to understand whether these women were really unique as leaders in their societies and during their time.

MODERN EAST ASIA
This one-semester course examines the emergence of modern societies in East Asia during the expansion of Western imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century and the endeavors of China, Japan, and Korea to respond to the challenges of the new world order. Special attention is given to the Chinese Revolution, the emergence of Japan as a global power, the Second World War in East Asia, and the economic transformation of the Pacific Rim in the second half of the twentieth century. Students write a research essay to fulfill the requirements of the course.

U.S. HISTORY AFTER 1945
“History is not the past. It is the present.” This course looks at the American experience of the last seventy-five years and endeavors to discern the impact of the Cold War, the human rights campaigns, the environmental movement, the “culture wars,” the deindustrialization of the economy, and the “war on terror” in American culture, society, and politics. For example, we explore the historical context for expressions and terms such as ‘Give ’em hell, Harry!”, “Better dead than Red,” the “Farce on Washington,” “end poverty in our time,” “Sisterhood is powerful!”, “blue-collar blues,” “family values,” “McWorld,” and the “American Dream” through images as well as the printed word. Students write a research essay to fulfill the requirements of the course.

SLAVERY AND ABOLITION
The African American slave narrative is one of the most organic forms of expression in the American literary and cultural tradition. The course examines original slave narratives themselves, such as The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, alongside of contemporary expressions of the institution in order to trace the genre over time. Paired with our study of the literature is a study of contemporary films which take on slavery, or its various scripts, such as 12 Years a Slave, Get Out and Black Panther.

THE LONG CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
This course explores the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from an expanded perspective, chronologically and ideologically. Instead of limiting our study to the “classical phase” of the movement between 1954 and the early 1970s, we begin in the 1930s and end with contemporary activism such as the Black Lives Matter movement. By exploring a wide range of texts, films, music, and historical approaches, we better understand the long struggle for black equality, the wide range of individuals and groups involved, and the movement’s interconnectedness with numerous other national and international campaigns for social justice. Some of the questions we explore are:  Why have some movement leaders and actors been remembered, while others have not? How has contemporary political debate and discourse shaped the memory of the civil rights movement? How did cultural forms including sports, films, music, literature, and television influence the quest for equality?

Science

COMPUTER SCIENCE AND AI
This yearlong course introduces students to the fundamental concepts of computer science and artificial intelligence. Through a hands-on, multidisciplinary approach, the course teaches students to problem-solve, develop creativity, and collaborate on solutions to real-word issues using the power of CS and AI. Topics covered in this course include, but are not limited to, programming languages and systems, graphics and games design, image recognition and machine learning.

AVIATION SCIENCE (now 1st and 2nd semester)
During the first semester, students study topics including engineering, aerodynamics, airspace and weather. Students learn to safely fly drones, launch a weather balloon into the upper atmosphere, fly the School’s state-of-the-art aircraft simulator and participate in other aviation related hands-on activities. During second semester, students prepare for the FAA Knowledge Exam for Private Pilot and take that exam at the end of the semester. Topics in this semester include navigation, radio communication, aviation weather, instrumentation, and aircraft engines and systems.  Additionally, every Sunday students have the opportunity to receive flight instruction at the local Great Barrington Airport. Students may elect to take one and/or both semester courses.

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