Category Archives: Language Arts

Philosophy (HS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Do we have free will? Can machines think? What is consciousness? What is happiness? Should we fear death? Does ethics depend on God’s existence? What should we do when we think a law is immoral? 

In this class, we will seek to understand and answer these questions and more, which have plagued ancient and contemporary philosophers alike. We will explore the origins and basic tenets of philosophy. Topics include theory of knowledge, philosophy of religion, Greek philosophy, Chinese philosophy, ethics, skepticism, rationalism, idealism, truth, and more. 

This class will include critical analysis of texts, structured deliberation, and creative projects. You will practice forming an argument with reasoning, in writing and discussion.

Sapiens (HS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money, and human rights. 

Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier. 

In this social studies class, we will read the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. There will be about 45 pages of reading per week, some of which we will do together in class. This class will also include lessons on early civilizations, human growth and development, social systems, and global history. 

In the past, I’ve taught the graphic novel version of Sapiens. This is the original version which offers more depth of historical examples and critical language. We may also look at the graphic novel to supplement our understanding.

World Literature – The Thing Around Your Neck (HS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a series of 12 short stories exploring the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.

Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. 

This class will include reading (in and outside of class), analytical writing, critical discussion, and studying contextual African history, especially about Adichie’s native Nigeria. 

World Literature – Persepolis (MS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

Persepolis is a graphic novel memoir by Marjane Satrapi. 10-year-old Marji narrates the story, sharing her experiences of a changing political, social, and cultural landscape in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution.

Marji discusses how her family’s secular ideas and background exposed her to different political thoughts, ideologies, and philosophies. The ideas she learns at home often clash with what is being taught at school, which confuses Marji and leaves her wondering about where she stands and her future. 

In this class, we will read the book together, discuss, and practice analytical writing. We will examine the genre of graphic novel memoir. We will study the history of Iran and the Islamic Revolution, making connections to the current state of revolution happening in Iran right now. The class will culminate by watching the excellent film adaptation of the graphic novel.

Fearless English (Scobie)

How I Make My Hypnosis Recordings - Start to Finish | Giovanni Lordi
This is the class where each week, you write something you’re genuinely excited to read aloud to your classmates, mostly fiction, but sometimes other kinds of work.

I am nowhere near out of good, provocative prompts, and I’ll take ANY of my wonderful writers from fall term, as well as ANY new writers!

  • There is always work outside of class because we use class for reading your pieces aloud. You get your pieces written between classes!
  • This class is FIRE, people, based on the idea that you should only bother writing what you’re super-pumped to share. When you do this the way it’s meant to be done, it feels like being in the best writing class there ever was.

Graphic Design and Typography (Scobie)

Best Graphic Designers

Graphic Design is using, combining, and blending images and words to create messages, moods, and meanings.
Typography is a subset of graphic design that focuses on how individual letters, alphabets, and entire fonts are designed and used.

LETS. GET. INTO. IT.

Come geek out with me about Helvetica and why it is both the best and worst typeface ever designed. Take walks to find and record examples of graphic design, and think about what’s good and bad about it. Collect images of graphic design from the web and other sources.  Try being a designer for a client. Design a logo. Design a poster that could change someone’s mind about something! Meet professional designers and learn about how they work.

  • There WILL be outside-of-class work, sometimes more, sometimes less, but if you like design, it should be mostly pretty fun. Still, learning real design is a time consuming process, so you’ll need to be willing to give some of your own time to it.
  • YES, I’m looking into getting us all access to professional design software at a very reasonable price.
  • There probably will be both individual and class projects for this class.