I am sitting in Mr. Bridges' classroom with parents and students gathered to hear the eleventh graders' honors humanities presentation. This year I decided not to skim and see as many as possible, but to settle in and experience some of the presentations in depth.
Mackenzie Russell just finished a very clear and thorough exploration of the mafia, unpacking its origin and its contours. Part of the assignment was to create an alternative medium (beyond the written and oral presentation), and Mackenzie produced two fine charcoal portraits of Luciano and Sinatra.
|Mackenzie's Portrait of Luciano|
As I type, Elena Kovalik is tracing Darwin's big biological idea through its sociological and political twists and turns in the twentieth century. I'm greatly impressed with the students' poise and confidence in front of their peers and parents. She explored the question of whether Darwin "caused" the social unrest of the twentieth century. (Short answer: no.) (Long answer: see how easy it is to see Darwinian warrants for such different things as capitalism and anarchism.). Elena wrote a children's book to go with her presentation.
Now Jay Irvin is holding forth on movies in general and war movies in particular, their message and their film-craft. I was impressed here, as with Mackenzie, how thoroughly and carefully students had studied the films that speak to their issue. Arts of persuasion were a special focus.
Catherine Chestnut asked hard questions about gun control. Why did we let this happen? What can we do? Will gun control work? She has surveyed Trinity Upper School students on gun ownership, opinions about gun control, background checks, and second amendment interpretation. What if we regulated guns as we do cars? She showed a video clip of Call of Duty. Also, her own safety video. Catherine was passionate, well-informed, and quick on her feet. She managed to be opinionated without being offensive--a felicitous combination.
|Mr. Bridges Introduces Catherine|
Rachel Baker talked about the word of the year: apocalypse. She explored eschatology. Originally a Jewish and Christian belief, but now more broad. Mythical eschatology believes in a return to the origin. Early Jewish concepts of eschatology. Early Christian and Reformation eschatology. Modern and secular eschatology,with its minimal hope. She asked why Americans are so focused on the end. Her speculations: American prime is past. Because of no one clear enemy, hard to have a focused hope.
|Rachel Shows Pop Cultural Examples of Secular Eschatology|