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Teaching The Perennial Philosophy

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

This upcoming spring semester, I’ll be teaching a course here at The Beekman School called the Perennial Philosophy. The basic theme of the course is to get at the underlying similarities between the world’s faiths. Traditionally, the attempt is to look strictly at history of esoteric and exoteric beliefs and practices. This semester, I’m going to incorporate how these beliefs have worked for and against the rise of the scientific method and the present debates of scientists and philosophers on the modern anthropic models of the fine-tuned universe: matter and consciousness.    Neil Degrasse Tyson quipped in his television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, “Some would say: we are the universe looking back at itself.” While more objectivist scientists balk at a statement like this (see Stephen Hawking backpedaling from his statement by stating he is an atheist), my goal is to compare and contrast Tyson’s statement to an old Kabbalistic adage where a student asks, “Rabbi, why all...read more

Topics: Cavin Thuring, philosophy, god, religion, Cosmos

Teaching History with Graphic Novels

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

Graphic novels are a powerful and often underused learning tool. As a history teacher at a small independent school, I recognize that every student learns in different ways.  Many students are visual learners for whom a picture is worth a thousand words, making the use of graphic novels in the classroom highly effective.  There are several wonderful historical graphic novels that can effectively engage students in historical studies. Graphic Novels for High School They Called Us Enemy is a graphic memoir in which the Japanese-American actor George Takei (best known for his role of Sulu on the original Star Trek) recalls his turbulent childhood at an American detention camp during World War II. The book is especially relevant today as we grapple with difficult questions about immigration and the rights of minorities in our current political climate. The March Trilogy is a graphic novel by U.S. Congressman John Lewis (with help from Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell) about his...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, graphic novel, history

Creative Writing for Analysis

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

How can a teacher trick her students into doing literary analysis? I know I am not the first teacher in history to be disappointed by my students’ analytical writing. There is something about writing an analytical essay that just makes their eyes glaze over. I have come to the conclusion that the reason students don’t know how to look into a piece of literature is because they haven’t thought about what it’s like to be on the inside looking out. And what better way to solve this issue than by putting them in charge of their own creative pieces?   How to Teach Analytical Writing through Creative Writing Now this is not to say that we should pass out a creative writing assignment and see you next week. Just like we do with our analytical writing, teachers should be ready to support students’ understanding, but with a slightly different perspective. We answer lots of prompts in class, directed to help students think about particular issues in writing, such as the development of a voice...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, creative writing, analysis, writing

Will Learning a Second Language Help You Get Into College?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

In an ever-increasing global community, no one should be asking why learning a second language in high school is so important.  And if you are planning on continuing your education after high school, you don’t need to ask yourself if learning a second language will help you get into college because most colleges are going to require it anyway. So, now that you have established the importance, and probably the necessity, of learning a second language, how do you choose one?  My advice is to be practical and select a language that you will be able to use regularly.  For most people living in the United States, that language is Spanish. Teaching Spanish in high school is probably more common than any other language so you should find a high school Spanish curriculum available in most schools.  In fact, many private schools are starting high school level Spanish in the 8th grade, which means that a student could be able to take the AP Spanish exam before graduation. While learning in the...read more

Topics: foreign language, college prep, George Higgins

What is School Accreditation and Why Is It Important?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

How can parents know if a school is providing a good education?  Who monitors the quality of an academic program to ensure that students are receiving the kind of preparation they need?  There are several organizations whose responsibility it is to establish an accredited high school.   These can be local, state, regional, or national organizations.  Also, it is possible to identify an accredited online high school. So what, exactly, is an accredited high school?  It is an academic program that has been reviewed by an organization whose job it is to examine all aspects of a school, from the physical structure to the design of a course syllabus.  When you are trying to evaluate the quality of a school, look to see who it is accredited by and if that organization is unfamiliar to you, use the internet as a resource to learn more. Once a school has been approved by a industry-wide recognized accrediting institution, parents can be assured that the standards of that school are in...read more

Topics: George Higgins, high school

Rolling Admissions at The Beekman School

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Rolling admissions means that you can enroll is a school at any point throughout the academic year.  While some schools may want you to wait until the beginning of a new marking period, others will allow you to join classes when you’re ready. In our experience, if a student is unhappy in a current school then the situation usually deteriorates as the year progresses.  The longer a student remains in an inappropriate placement, the larger the portion of a student’s final grade will be consumed by those poor grades. In an effort to salvage a school year that is getting bumpy, parents and students should actively search for a school that is more in line with their needs and able to offer an immediate placement.  Some schools are more experienced with this than others. For over 90 years, The Beekman School has been providing the New York City metropolitan area with full-time and part-time schedules for a range of students with specific needs not being accommodated in their current school...read more

Topics: rolling admissions, high school, George Higgins

Can Therapeutic Accommodations Be Found at a Mainstream School?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

By the time students reach high school, if there is a need for therapy, it has been identified and a list of requested accommodations has been outlined.  Often times, these students have already started working with private counselors or therapists outside of school and/or enrolled in special programs or support services after the school day. A concern that parents and students frequently express when meeting with us is the overlapping of private therapy and required in-school therapy.  They feel that they are addressing the therapeutic needs outside of school and they are seeking a school that will work with their therapist in developing a schedule that supports the specific accommodations that have been identified. Here are ways The Beekman School can provide your child with a mainstream education while you provide the therapy that your child is benefitting from: Rolling admission throughout the school year and summer Academic courses available 12 months per year Part-time as well...read more

Topics: accommodations, George Higgins, high school

Beekman’s Core Capabilities Can Help Your Child

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

There are many choices in schools and knowing which one is the best fit for a student can be daunting.  What happens when you’re weeks or months into a new school year and you can already see the writing on the wall - you’ve enrolled in a school that isn’t working out as planned?  Transfer! How? The first thing to do is make a list of why the current school isn’t appropriate.  This could be everything from the physical structure to the student body or the classroom environment. This list that you have just created is going to help you identify a school that should better support your learning needs.  Now, start your Internet search using key words to help narrow your results.  Then, make a list of schools that offer the most accommodations specific to your interests. Some of the factors that might be important to you are: Up to double-time on all tests/quizzes Listen to audio recordings of books Hear instructions orally Access to peer note-taker Use of an electronic device to take a...read more

Topics: The Beekman School, accommodations, George Higgins, transfer

Are There Disadvantages to a Progressive Education?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

First of all, as someone who has worked in education almost 40 years I can’t imagine saying there are disadvantages to education.  There are, however, pros and cons to different styles of education and a popular buzzword in the field over the last couple of decades has been “progressive education.” Most parents are familiar with traditional education, the style utilized at the high school they most likely attended.  Each teacher had a syllabus for a course and followed that curriculum from September to June.  The focus is on the teacher and the material he/she has outlined for the course. The progressive education philosophy embraces a more student-centered approach.  While teachers have objectives that they want to cover in a course, the curriculum encourages student input so that their particular interests can be incorporated into the design of the class.  Students learn better through their own experience.  Therefore, learning facts is more supported when students understand...read more

Topics: George Higgins, progressive

Units!

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

“Units are life or death!” I tell my students. I often use the following example: Let’s say we’re all on a boat and Mary falls overboard. I turn to you and yell, “Quick, get me 12 of rope or Mary will die.” You bring me 12 centimeters but I needed 12 feet and alas, glug, glug, gurgle, gasp, poor Mary is dead. Units are important. There are twenty four hours in a day, four cups in a pint, twelve inches in a foot, one thousand meters in a kilometer, one hundred centigrams in a gram and to convert from Celsius to Kelvin, you add 273. You should be familiar with these English and metric system units, but do you remember the mole? If you do, thank a Chemistry teacher. My favorite unit is the mole. One mole is equal to 6.02 x 10^23 atoms. This unit is one that many of us don’t use in everyday life, so you might not be familiar with it unless of course, you’re a chemist. I don’t love this unit for the help it gives me in my day-to-day, for, even as a Chemistry teacher, I don’t use it every...read more

Topics: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Mole Day, Chemistry

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