Winter Study 2017
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. The following is a list of courses offered this year:
Students will be introduced to three disciplines: metal fabrication, automotive repair, and wood-working along side professionals that work in these fields. Mike St. Pierre will instruct wood-working, shop and power-tool use and safety; Bob St. Pierre will introduce welding techniques for practical and sculptural applications with metal; Kevin Leonard of Flamingo Motors will oversee the dissembling of a car engine as a teaching tool, and cover basic car maintenance. There will be a writing component to this otherwise hands-on class and students will be expected to keep a weekly journal.
Health Psychology is a specialty area that focuses on how biology, psychology, behavior, and social factors influence health and illness. The main focus is to better understand how our behaviors impact our health and illness. Research and experiments are conducted on the development of healthy habits as well as the prevention or reduction of unhealthy behaviors. A few of the current issues that will be studied in Health Psychology: Stress reduction, weight management, smoking cessation, improving daily nutrition, reducing risky sexual behaviors, and hospice care & grief counseling for terminal patients. You will conduct your own research experiment by choosing one of your own unhealthy behavior and reducing the behavior by using what you have learned in class.
Fun Fact! – According to one study (Mokdad et al., 2004) nearly half of all deaths in the United States can be linked to behaviors or other risk factors that are mostly preventable.
New Jim Crow
In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. This class will be based around reading sections of The New Jim Crow, discussion about individual and group experiences, how to move forward as a country and as a school, and interviews with various people working to raise awareness and to create equality. There will also be an art component to the class in which we explore art about this topic and create our own. I want to create a platform from which we can better understand what race and racism in American looks like in all of it’s various forms, and through conversation, art, writing, lots of coffee/tea, food and reading, take steps to make some positive change! (Note: no juniors as this will overlap a lot with Am Hist.)
Social History of American Popular Music
Music speaks directly to our feelings and aspirations, but often across divides of experience that complicate its meaning. This course will examine the history of popular music in America, from the era of Stephen Foster and minstrel shows to the present. We will try to squeeze in as much music as possible, from blues to bluegrass, player pianos to punk, rockabilly to rap. We will study popular songs in the context of changes in the technology of recording and distribution, in economic organization, and above all in the complex interconnections of race, class, gender and ethnicity that characterize American history. The course will consist of lecturing, discussion and a lot of listening, with some outside reading.
Food Realities in the age of the Celebrity Chef
This is a two-pronged course exploring the glamorous world of artisan kitchens and trends, contrasted against the socioeconomic gap in food security and nutrition.
It will involve a visit to a property that specializes in high end, exclusive, artisanal food; the socio-economic impacts of the “local movement” with visits to farms; volunteer work at the Berkshire food project; studying the USDA school lunch program, and more. Lots of hands-on and field trips.
Students will choose their own material from American and international songbooks, study it in the context of the larger works, and develop it in rehearsal. Emphasis will be placed on character development and how character emerges and/or changes through song. Solos, duets, and ensembles will all be considered as source material and the work of the class will result in a final performance at the end of the winter term. Trained voices are not a prerequisite and the class is open to all levels and interests.
Join Franny and Otis in learning and investigating numerous book-binding techniques while exploring and perfecting your creative writing skill! Students of Book Arts will experiment with new book making methods and creative writing approaches each week to create original works of art that combine both word and image. Learn how books can act as sculptural vehicles for storytelling, poetry and personal essay!
This Mortal Coil
Investigations of the human experience through poetry, short stories, and selected works born out of the reflections, suffering, and rumination by the young, the old, the forgotten and oppressed.
Readings by: Amanda Lovelace, Warsarn Shire, James Baldwin, William Wordsworth, Edwidge Danticat, ZZ Packer, Walt Whitman, Junot Diaz, Rebecca Curtis, Maya Angelou, Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, Denis Johnson, David Foster Wallace, Ryu Murakami, Roxane Gay, Mark Lotto, Sylvia Plath. Tea, Cookies, and other comfort things supplied.
The Ceramic Surface
In this class we will explore the multitude of surface treatments available in the ceramic medium. Students will be introduced to various techniques through hands-on demonstration. These techniques can be applied to all kinds of ceramics, including wheel-thrown, hand built and sculptural work. While some class time will be allocated to developing form, the majority of our time will be dedicated to surface exploration. Some of the techniques that we will cover include: sgraffito, colored slip, engobes, oxides, stains, slip trailing, ceramic decals, and glazes with an emphasis on color, pattern, and decoration.
In addition to pursuing their own projects, students will work as a class to test different surface treatments, and archive their results for future use in the studio.
The Sixth Extinction
Many scientists believe we are living through the Sixth Mass Extinction, the worst period of global species loss since the end of the Dinosaur Age, caused primarily by climate change, habitat loss and related issues of introduced species, disease, and development.
Together we’ll read “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, a Williamstown author who writes regularly for the New Yorker. The book won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for general non-fiction and will serve the class as a foundation. Starting with a mix of reading and discussion we’ll go on to a deeper exploration of the issues raised by the book. Individually and together we’ll work towards responses that are both active and creative with the hope of bringing about change.
If it’s possible, we’re aiming to have Elizabeth Kolbert come to Buxton during the winter term to talk about her work writing about climate change in this book and others.