Friday, June 29, 2012

Views From the Inside

I want to thank Marie Pfeifer for her excellent coverage of Classics Academy Night in her article From killer tunics to The Killers, Classics Academy blends ancient and modern at Morristown High.  The article posted on the Morristown Green website detailed the senior theme-based Academy and purpose behind Classics Night.  What's engaging about Ms. Pfeifer's article is that students were provided a vehicle to share their views about the program.  All of the students were interviewed and several of their comments were included in the piece.

Classics Night provides each student in the Academy the chance to publicly address the following core question:

In what way or ways is my present contingent on my individual and humankind’s collective past?

Students are presented with a blank slate as to how they address the Academy's overarching question.  Like last year's Classics Night, members of the audience were treated to a diverse range of endeavors.  In addition to the projects and performances several students choose to read prepared remarks as a way to further explain their interpretations.  The remarks excerpted in the article speak to the benefits of situating learners in cross-disciplinary environments.  Just take a minute to reflect on the core question.  How would you respond and how would you go about demonstrating your interpretation?  Classics Night is the culmination of positioning students to be creative, to think critically, to consider competing perspectives, to construct complex understandings and to defend a position in a public forum.  This is evident when you reflect on the perspectives shared by our Classic Students such as the following from Alice Feldman:

A quote from Kurt Vonnegut sparked my thinking about the resounding meaning of words. He writes, “Socrates says ‘to be is to do,’ Sartre says ‘to do is to be’ and Sinatra sings, ‘Do Be Do Be Do.”

I laughed after reading those lines, who wouldn’t? But the validity of Vonnegut’s message stuck with me. Everything that we say or do is bound to be misunderstood; and how likely is it that everything we say or write is truly an accurate reflection of what we meant to say, or indeed what we even thought at all?