Winter Study

Winter Study Electives

During the winter term, Buxton offers an array of intensive six-week classes to further enrich students’ educational experience. These courses emphasize integrated learning, hands-on experience and team-teaching. Listed on this page are the 2020 Winter Study courses.

Abstract Algebra

When you first start learning math, you learn about numbers and operations on
numbers. As you progress, you begin learning about variables and functions and
operations on those objects. In this class we will be extending this idea even further. Can
you have operations on other operations? Operations on entire sets of numbers?
Operations on driving directions, or on entirely abstract objects? Using a
straightforward but advanced college abstract algebra textbook (A Book of Abstract
Algebra, Charles Pinter), we will be covering groups, fields, rings, operators, and
isomorphisms. All work, whether in class or out, will be proof based.
Note: This course will require an incredible amount of mathematical maturity. If you
have not yet completed algebra 2, you should talk to Micah to see if it would be


In 1914, the poet Robert Frost wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Why
are there so many walls—physical and metaphorical—between so many people, places,
and things? This Winter Study will examine the border as a political, artistic, academic,
environmental, symbolic, and material phenomenon. Our central case will be the
U.S.-Mexico border, and the continuing humanitarian crisis there. But we will study all
kinds of walls, fences, frontiers, and dividing lines. We will study and question the
division of art into separate media, academics into separate disciplines, and
communities into separate countries. And we will study the physical materials and
technologies that make borders: barbed wire, steel slat fencing, surveillance drones,
checkpoints. There will be both classroom and studio time built into the course, as well
as readings, discussions, interviews, films, and potential field trips. Your final
assignment will be to put up or take down a border, and to share your work in whatever
format(s) feel best.

Folk Art of America

Not only do Folk Arts represent a vibrant connection to centuries-old American
traditions, they offer beautiful vehicles to express ourselves and make functional art.
Each week, we will practice the art form in the studio, visit local artisans in their field,
and deepen our knowledge by watching a Folk Art PBS documentary series. We will
weave baskets in the Shaker tradition, make jewelry through bead and silver work,
create ceramic sculptures, sew and stitch unique handbags, make paper from scratch,
and explore fiber arts like knitting and weaving. We will deeply investigate aesthetics,
the historical ways in which these art forms represent the different people and traditions
in our country, and consider how these forms may continue to develop in our lifetimes and beyond.

Health Education and Activism Through Zine-Making

This interdisciplinary class will explore how zines give authority to underrepresented
voices and serve to educate the public about topics that are not normally discussed in
mainstream media. Focusing specifically on health and health activism, each student
will create four zines to contribute to a Buxton Zine Library which will be presented to
the school at the end of the term. We will research current topics and how medical
research has discriminated against and harmed groups of people throughout history–
we would like to note that this course will touch on themes regarding mental, physical,
and reproductive health which may feel personal to some. Along with learning new skills
in printmaking, book-binding, and visual communication, we will be emphasizing the
importance of ethical journalism and the development of research skills. This course will
appeal to students interested in social sciences, art, and journalism. Multidisciplinary
thinking will be emphasized and encouraged.

Intro to Guitar

In this course, we will learn about different types of guitars, parts of the guitar,
accessories, and tuning. We will also learn basic chords, strumming patterns,
finger-picking styles, tabs, chord boxes, and so on. By the end of the course, you will be
able to play many songs. You do not need to know music or music theory. You will need
a guitar.

Materials Workshop

Students will be introduced to two or three hands-on disciplines: automotive repair and
wood-working, and possibly metal welding. One day a week, John Kalapos will instruct
wood-working, and shop and power-tool use and safety. A second day each week, Kevin
Leonard of Flamingo Motors will oversee the dissembling of a car engine as a teaching
tool, and cover basic car maintenance. For the third class day each week, we may have a
metalshop instructor teach welding. Otherwise, Matt Martin will lead studio visits with
area professionals, to learn about a wide range of hands-on professional work. There
will be a writing component to this otherwise hands-on class and students will be
expected to keep a weekly journal.

Movement Practice: Dancing in and out of nature

The natural world is made up of all things occurring in nature. However, what is natural
and what is unnatural have always been sites of contestation and exclusion. Definitions
of natural have ecological and sociopolitical implications. In this course, we will use
movement to explore the natural and unnatural world, whatever that means to each of
us, in order to generate patterns of discovery as individuals and as a group. We will
investigate wind, trees, water, animals, clouds, and other things found in nature, as well
as man-made things such as architecture, literature, music, forced migration, greed,
exploitation, and war. How can we portray these concrete and abstract concepts by
dancing in and out of nature? As a class, we will collectively engage in the art of
worlding by improvising, talking, moving, and creating together as we find form in the
natural and unnatural worlds surrounding us.

Spin – Break – Write – Rhyme: 4 Elements that rocked the world

What can the arts movement and culture that took New York by storm over 45 years
ago, reveal to us about young urban reflection in a changing world? 4 Elements is an
opportunity to engage with that movement: Hip Hop, and the tools it has given us to
reflect, express, and create. We will primarily engage with 4 elements of this culture
(and their evolutions), DJ-ing, Break dancing, Graffiti writing, and Rapping/Emceeing
in order to engage with Hip Hop’s famed 5th element: Knowledge. Participating in the
world of Hip Hop studies, 4 Elements will take on Hip Hop’s arts movement to
understand some of the historical and cultural context(s) that produced it. We will also
study the global influences that have made great impacts on Hip Hop, as well as the
culture’s influence on the globe. Taking a hands-on approach to unpacking this arts
movement through readings, films, reflections and art making sessions, 4 Elements
hopes to enhance our engagement with these elements and their ground shaking

Waiting for Godot

In the middle of the twentieth century, Samuel Beckett’s seminal play Waiting for Godot
turned the classical dramatic narrative on its head and remains as puzzling now as when
it was first performed. While Beckett suggests that it is a natural human impulse to
relentlessly search for meaning in the world, the play mischievously toys with the idea
that maybe there is none. Beckett’s characters play as best they can at survival in this
strange metaphysical space as both tragedians and comedians, as dramatic actors and
clowns. The class will study the play primarily through performance, and secondarily,
through close reading and analysis of the text. Previous stage experience not necessary.
Limited to eight.


  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."
    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “At Buxton you get to focus on what you want to be learning; whether it is social skills or in-depth studying- you learn to take responsibility of your education.”
    Francis Magai
    Francis Magai Troy, NY
  • “Living your education means to not only learn things, but to use what you learn in your everyday life.”
    Naima Nigh
    Naima Nigh Mexico
  • “To me, living your education means to be independent, to take charge, to not be afraid of asking for help, to learn from your peers, to love to learn, to take what you have learned from a loving environment and take it into the world.”
    Kat Hallowell
    Kat Hallowell New Hampshire
  • “Your education is more than just your time in class, it’s your life as a whole. Learning is not limited to a teacher teaching you something in a classroom.”
    Cynder Johnson
    Cynder Johnson Missouri
  • “To me, at Buxton, it’s not boundaries that you make, but the ones you break through.”
    Roy Malone
    Roy Malone New York, NY
  • “At Buxton, I can choose what I want to do with my education. I can design my own path and invest my time studying topics that I’m really interested in.”
    Nora Mittleman
    Nora Mittleman New York, NY
  • “At Buxton you can experience your intellectual development in a community that accepts your perspective of the world.”
    Ben Nigh
    Ben Nigh Mexico
  • “I felt instantly at home when I stepped on the campus. At Buxton, we are in school 24/7. We learn things in the classroom, but we really learn valuable things outside of the classroom. We learn how to work with others and respect each other’s spaces. Our education surrounds us and we learn new things everyday.”
    Emily Woodside
    Emily Woodside Albany, NY
  • “I chose Buxton over public school because I think I function better in a smaller environment. You’re able to get to know students and faculty on a deeper level, which is rare.”
    Charlie Starenko
    Charlie Starenko Williamstown, MA
  • “Students should be happy when they are learning. They should not feel like studying is a burden to them. You learn things from your living space and environment - you are learning every second you are living.”
    Jiayi Cao
    Jiayi Cao China
  • “Buxton has shown me that it is possible to forge close bonds with teachers as well as students. It also gives you the ability to try new things in an environment where there is no judgment.”
    Kristhal Ayala
    Kristhal Ayala Puerto Rico
  • “I chose Buxton for a small community-based education with focus on the individual as part of the world at large, along with the learning settings.”
    Katie McAvoy
    Katie McAvoy Boston, MA
  • “I love the atmosphere and how tightly knit the community is. At Buxton you take what you learn in the classroom and use it in everyday life - you learn from the world around you and see how you can make it better.”
    Cheyanne Williams
    Cheyanne Williams Boston, MA
  • “At Buxton you bring your education into everything you do, and learn important, relevant things that you can utilize all the time.”
    Rebecca van der Meulen
    Rebecca van der Meulen New Lebanon, NY
  • "In the last year, Buxton has become my home. It has provided me with a place where self-exploration is encouraged in and out of the classroom. I have made unbreakable bonds with faculty and my peers."

    Aurora Albany, NY
  • "To me living your education means enjoying it to the fullest. Do the things that make you uncomfortable, like activities, clubs, or sports you wouldn't normally participate in. Like the saying goes, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

    Adrian Boston, MA
  • "Buxton has given me room to fully realize what inspires me and the resources to create it. The next big grade is no longer a constant worry. I have more space to be and do what I want."

    Lola Williamstown, MA
  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."

    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “A sense that everybody matters, that you are in a community where everyone can make a difference and reach their full potential, where you are interdependent and you work together, and most importantly where you understand that you can do whatever you want to do and whatever it is that you do, you have got to make a difference. I think that, more than anything, defines my experience at Buxton.”
    Peter Shumlin
    Peter Shumlin Governor of Vermont, Buxton Alumni

Live your education at Buxton

Start typing and press Enter to search