Elective Courses


English   |   History  |    Science   |   Performing Arts   |   Visual Arts   |   Math


 

English

Women’s Literature  •  Fall

Students will learn to apply a feminist lens to their analysis of literature and current society. We study gender, the history of gender inequality, and current sexism and gender inequality issues, tracing and applying our understandings to books written by and about women. While studying the experiences of women throughout history and the ways in which they express these experiences, students will be able to interpret current writing and events involving gender discrimination. This course welcomes people of all gender identities.Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Sacred Texts  •  Fall

In this semester-long course, we will explore the common themes that are found in Sacred Texts throughout the world including creation, destruction (sin), redemption and salvation. We will use Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth as our guide as we explore texts including the Torah, Qur’an, Bible, Vedas, and other important texts from world religions. Students will read these texts critically looking for the themes that arise in each of them. How are they similar? How do they differ? How does text become Sacred? How does culture impact the Sacred? As students become familiar with those themes present in all Sacred Texts, they will be asked to begin looking for those themes in the texts that have had significance in their lives. At the end of the semester, students will identify a text that has helped create meaning in their lives and analyze that text through the framework of the course.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Writing for Performance  •  Fall

Students will receive a strong foundation in the playwriting craft, dramaturgical thinking, theatrical tools, play and scene structures, textual analysis, and constructive peer feedback models.To that end, this course includes prompts and free writes; scene writing and monologue writing; reading aloud and performance; collaborative group writing and devising; reading and analyzing plays; class discussions; peer feedback; ensemble-building; and personal aesthetic explorations. Students will choose to focus on their favorite piece to present in a “staged reading” style for their final exam. Students will be encouraged to invite members outside of the class to be a part of the audience. Students may also submit their plays for consideration to be in Darrow on the Fringe in the winter.

*This course is cross-listed with Performing Arts. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Race: Reality and Fiction  •  Spring

If race has no genetic or biological basis, why does it matter so much? How has the notion of race been created and maintained over the last 300 years of American history? What are the impacts of racial categories in society? This course will explore the development of the idea of race through anthropological and historical research, and will apply these insights to works of fiction. Students will gain valuable tools for interpreting and discussing a very thorny and problematic topic and for analyzing current events and everyday interactions. Students will choose whether to earn History or English credit through varied assignments, but all students will read the major assigned texts.  

*This course is cross-listed with History. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Russian Literature B: Screenplay Project  •  Spring

Fifteen or so years ago, two Darrow faculty members made ambitiously wishful plans to make a film based upon Yuri Olesha’s novel Envy.  This enigmatic work with it vibrant poetic language, memorable characters, stunning imagery and complex narrative structure recommends itself for translation to a performing arts medium.  While the two faculty members never acted on their nascent idea, in Russian Literature: Screenplay Project students will immerse themselves in Envy, as well as other selected 20th century works such as We and Omon Ra, which suggest or, actually, demand cinematic treatment. Based on this reading experience, students will create a screenplay based upon or inspired by one of the novellas. The essential challenge of this project will be to translate or adapt text, which tells, to prospective film, which shows.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

NOTE: Russian Literature A is not a prerequisite for Russian Literature B.

 

Foundations of Science Fiction  •  Spring

What is science fiction, and why do we need it? Where did it come from; where is it going? These questions and many more are essential for understanding the most important opportunity reading and writing science fiction helps us to develop: The question of WHAT IF. If the concept of WHAT IF intrigues you, irritates you, or sparks your imagination, this is a course for you. We will read works that helped develop what we think of as science fiction, works that are considered important in the field, and works which are enjoyed by fans and fanatics alike. This class will focus on texts of science fiction, and we will but briefly examine SF created for television, movies, and/or comics. We will consider ideas around world-building, social and political commentary, time travel, dystopian futures, robotics, and so much more. This course, while reading intensive, will also include both analytical and fiction writing. We will explore what others have written about potential or alternate pasts, presents, and futures. Above all, we will ask, WHAT IF?

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

History

BIG History  •  Fall

Big History is an interdisciplinary course that examines the place of humanity in the universe, for the entire 13.8 billion year existence of the known universe, and far ahead into its possible futures. “The concept arose from a desire to go beyond specialized and self-contained fields of study to grasp history as a whole. Big History explores how we are connected to everything around us and where we may be heading. It provides a foundation for thinking about the future and the changes that are reshaping our world.” (“Introduction to BHP 2016”)

*This course is cross-listed with Science. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Prerequisites: Biology and Global Citizenship (or equivalent). Department Chair permission required.

 

Social Animals? The Rise and Fall of Community in the 21st Century  •  Fall

 In the 1950’s, civic engagement was at an all-time high…but what were the social implications? The class will read excerpts from Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam to discuss the dissolution of social attendance, coupled with the rise of technological achievements. The course will also have a civic engagement experiential element, consisting of the creation of a social compact regarding participation in government. We will also examine the Darrow community: its components, its mission, and its identity. We will collaborate as a group to create a visual representation of our conclusions.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

 

Debate  •  Fall

In this class, you will learn how to debate effectively about controversial topics in a civil, engaged, and thoughtful way. Debate topics will be of your and/or your teacher’s choosing. You will utilize Lincoln-Douglas debate format, in order to appropriately organize and structure the debate process. In addition, you will learn logical fallacies, practice finding them in televised debates such as Presidential debates, as well as utilizing them in your own debates (as debaters) and in your feedback and decision-making as judges (when your classmates are debating). Further, you will conduct research not only to support your argument, but anticipate counter arguments from your opponent.

Course Goals:

  • To learn how to engage in debate around controversial topics in a civil, respectful, and thoughtful manner.
  • To conduct research in a rigorous and substantive way.
  • To provide constructive feedback to your peers and be able to learn from and improve from their feedback.

Open to all seniors, and juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

 

Psychology  •  Spring

From Freud's classic Interpretation of Dreams a staple for students interested in the psychological field, to Charles M. Duhigg's The Power of Habit, students will gain insight into the processes that produced Freud the psychoanalyst, and consider the evolution since then of the id, ego, and superego. Students will analyze the ways we habitually act on our most desirable -- but sometimes most undesirable -- actions, addictions, and thoughts, and study how behavioral principles apply to our everyday behaviors. This course caters both to students who are interested in potentially majoring or minoring in psychology in college, as well as those who simply want to gain useful insight for understanding themselves and others.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

 

Photojournalism  •  Spring

This course will develop both the art and practice of communicating important news and socially compelling stories primarily through photography complemented by journalistic writing. Each photojournalist will select one topic to investigate, conduct field work on, and research in depth. The resulting photo-essay will live on a website that each student will craft, publish, publicize and manage as part of the semester-long project. Photojournalism is a fascinating and influential occupation that is multidisciplinary by nature. The independent photojournalist is a hybrid photographer-storyteller-reporter-social scientist-activist-publicist who conducts a good deal of fieldwork, balancing thorough preparation with creative improvisation. A powerful and well-publicized photograph has changed the course of history many times. Yours can too.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Introduction to Philosophy  •  Spring

This course will delve into attempts to answer the Big Questions of existence, knowledge, and morality from the perspective of human reason rather than faith (or, as the Greeks had it, logos instead of mythos). Students will learn about major philosophical thinkers and ideas to encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and the examination of ideas often taken for granted. They will begin by exploring the way major topics of inquiry were identified in classical Greece, and how those topics came to dominate the western philosophical tradition. The course will then delve into the philosophy of religion, including the various attempts to prove the existence of God, and the explanations for the existence of evil in the world. Students will then move to the study of moral philosophy, in particular the ideas of Mill and Kant, as well as the various critiques of their ideas, in order to better understand the development of moral and political frameworks that inform our lives, both on an individual and societal level. After analyzing the response to Kant by German idealists, primarily Hegel, students will dive into the Marxian tradition, and conclude the course with the major trends of late 19th century and 20th century philosophy, primarily existentialism.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

 

Race: Reality and Fiction  •  Spring

If race has no genetic or biological basis, why does it matter so much? How has the notion of race been created and maintained over the last 300 years of American history? What are the impacts of racial categories in society? This course will explore the development of the idea of race through anthropological and historical research, and will apply these insights to works of fiction. Students will gain valuable tools for interpreting and discussing a very thorny and problematic topic and for analyzing current events and everyday interactions. Students will choose whether to earn History or English credit through varied assignments, but all students will read the major assigned texts.  

*This course is cross-listed with English. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Science

Physics  •  Year

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to play a sport on the moon? Or have you wanted to design a roller coaster ride? Physics allows you to understand how matter and energy interact so that you can meaningfully engage in exploring these questions and more. This class will be organized around a series of design challenges that will be based upon your growing knowledge of mechanics, acoustics, optics, heat, electricity, magnetism, and other aspects of physics. We will investigate these concepts together and apply engineering practices to meet the goals of each challenge.

 

Robotics  •  Fall

A robot is an embedded configuration of software and hardware designed to interact with its surroundings autonomously and or via human input. This includes everything from a vending machine to the Mars Exploration Rovers. Robotics is a hands-on introduction to the concepts and applications of robots. Students develop computer programming logic and reasoning skills as they design, build, and program robots within an engineering context. Students work in teams to build a variety of fixed and mobile devices focused upon meeting the criteria of design challenges such as simulating a fire rescue or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This class is open to all levels of experience.

 

Sustainability  •  fall

Students in Sustainability will take a deep dive into different topics, including solar power, green energy, climate change, carbon neutrality, and more. They will work to make change here at Darrow and in our local communities through information gathering, community action, and fundraising. Students will research, collect data, and collaborate to make real, effective change on issues related to sustainability.

 

Programming in C  •  Spring

Students will learn to understand and program in the C programming language. This course is an introduction and requires no prior programming experience, but does require a background in Algebra II. Students will learn the basics of C, including how to write programs and use proper programming “grammar.” Course topics will include, but are not limited to, understanding and using different data types and functions; using arrays; utilizing if, if-else, and else-if statements; and utilizing “while” loops and “for” loops.

 

Robotics II  •  Spring

A robot is an embedded configuration of software and hardware designed to interact with its surroundings autonomously and or via human input. This includes everything from a vending machine to the Mars Exploration Rovers. Robotics II is hands-on class that requires creativity and design thinking. Students continue to develop computer programming logic and reasoning skills as they design, build, and program robots within an engineering context using Tetrix Robotics. Students work in teams to build a variety of fixed and mobile devices focused upon meeting the criteria of design challenges. As a final challenge students will design, build, and code an entirely original robot of their own design. This course is open to students who have taken Robotics I or have demonstrated past experience with Lego Mindstorms or Tetrix.

Prerequisite: Robotics I

 

Forensic Science  •  Spring

A basic overview of forensic science, covering fingerprinting, observation, crime scene processing techniques, data collection, microscopic evidence analysis, blood analysis, footprints, and other areas of interest. Students will gain a basic understanding of forensic science terminology, techniques, and skills. Students will improve skills such as observation, microscope and slide handling, research, analysis, and critical thinking.

 

Mechanical Science  •  Spring

Have you ever wondered what’s inside the machines we use on a daily basis? Mechanical Science will allow you to access the inner workings of some basic tools and machines to gain a deeper understanding of how humans have engineered some elegant solutions to make our lives easier. We will learn to use simple hand tools as well as manual and electronic measuring instruments to take apart and put back together basic mechanical devices. We will focus on gears, motors, engines, and simple electronic circuits in devices to understand how these tools and machines function. Historical perspective will be gained through learning about Renaissance-era work with simple machines and we will use algebraic equations that allow us to calculate mechanical advantage based on these simple concepts. Lastly, we will focus on furthering our manual competency as we learn how to physically take something apart, problem-solving when we can’t immediately solve a problem in front of us, and good teamwork skills when a third or fourth hand, or second pair of eyes, is needed. Get your hands dirty and take it apart!

 

Programming C  •  Spring

Students will learn to understand and program in the C programming language. This course is an introduction and requires no prior programming experience, but does require a background in Algebra II. Students will learn the basics of C, including how to write programs and use proper programming “grammar.” Course topics will include, but are not limited to, understanding and using different data types and functions; using arrays; utilizing if, if-else, and else-if statements; and utilizing “while” loops and “for” loops. Students need to have a Windows or Apple laptop to bring to class.

 

Performing Arts

Jazz Ensemble  •  Fall & Spring

Students involved in this ensemble will work to improve their ensemble playing as well as their individual musicianship. This group will work on standards, blues, fusion as well as contemporary and original compositions. On and off campus performances will be included.

Prerequisite: Musical experience required

 

Chorus  •  Fall & Spring

Chorus is Darrow's vocal ensemble, which explores music from the Renaissance to modern pop, and from world music to original songs. Each member of the Chorus learns to read music and develop their voice for choral singing. Chorus members sing at various performances including school concerts, Miss Hall's Coordinate Concert, and other off campus concerts.

 

Writing for Performance  •  Fall

In this course students will analyze and explore a variety of performance writers, styles, and contents. Each week students will be building their writing skills while learning performance tools through a workshop style classroom setting culminating, each final class, in a table reading of that week’s work. Throughout the semester students will be required to read from a diverse collection of published plays representing different genres and playwrights. From the weekly writing prompts, students will have the opportunity to read and hear each other’s pieces during the Writer’s Workshop. Students will choose to focus on their own favorite original piece to present in a “staged reading” style for their original One Act final exam. Students will be encouraged to invite members outside of the class to be a part of the audience.

*This course is cross-listed with the English Department. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

 

Music for Social Change  •  Spring

Many of the foundational features of the course will explore, generally, the intersection of art and social change. Once reviewed, we would hone in on the particular role of music as a catalyst for change.

Topics of exploration may include the following:

  • An inquiry into the philosophy of aesthetics. How does art impact us and how can our experiences with art transform ourselves and society at large?
  • An inquiry into the philosophy of civil society. What issues in contemporary life may be keeping us from coexisting peacefully?
  • An inquiry into the ways that arts can contribute to the public sphere and how art functions in a democracy.
  • An exploration into examples of artists and musicians who have contributed to social change through their art.(Polish violinist Huberman during the Holocaust).
  • An exploration into different NGOs who believe in the power of music and the arts to bring about social change. (El Sistema, Musicians without Borders)
  • An inquiry into the distinguishing features of music as compared to the other arts.

 

Music Production  •  Fall

Students will utilize state-of-the-art technology to create, compose, remix, and record music. We will learn programs including ProTools, Logic, and more.

 

Intro to Guitar and Piano  •  Fall

Students will learn the essential elements and fundamentals in order to begin playing each instrument. This course is designed for any student who is seeking to explore performance techniques and basic music theory on guitar and piano. Although students can focus on guitar or piano, both instruments will be introduced to all students enrolled in this course. No prior experience is needed. Students will be able to use the guitars and keyboards in the Performing Arts Center, so no equipment is needed.

 

Experimental Film Studies & Design  •  Spring

In Experimental Film & Design students will self-select one of three tracks: film studies, film production, or an independent design focus. Within their chosen track, students will work with instructors to develop projects designed to build their track specific skills. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to learn from peers, industry professionals, and online master classes, while sharing their work with the class and larger Darrow community. This semester long course will be offered in both the Fall and Spring. Students will have the option of taking one or both semesters selecting one track per term. While there is no prerequisite or prior film knowledge required for this course, students will need to be self-driven, with the ability to adhere to deadlines.

 

Music Theory  •  Spring

This fast-paced course in music notation and ear training is designed to provide the basic skills necessary to compose and analyze music. Students utilize technology to document their work in written scores and recorded works.

 

Songwriting  •  Spring

Do you have a story to tell? Say it through song. Students will learn effective and efficient techniques to explore the process of songwriting. This class will analyze existing songs, practice writing in different forms and styles, and have their work recorded in the PAC studio. Music can be recorded by other musicians other than the songwriter as the focus of this class is on composition and not necessarily performance. At the end of this course, students will have the ability to write music and lyrics in different styles and form. Students will be assigned to record their music and have a Soundcloud (or similar platform) page to post their work. This course can offer a compositional element to the Music Department’s course offerings. Students will explore aspects of music theory, lyricism, poetry, as well as self-identity and awareness through the process of songwriting.

 

 

Visual Arts

Studio Art  •  Fall & Spring

Studio Art is an introductory art course offered in both the fall and spring semesters and is a prerequisite to all other art electives. Students have the opportunity to explore Drawing, Painting, Photography, Ceramics, and Graphic Design. With each new medium, students will explore and incorporate the elements and principles of art and design into their artworks. This course emphasizes process as a means to liberate students from preconceived notions of inability or lack of skills necessary to create. Students will learn how to craft an artist’s statement, develop research and presentation skills, and study both historical and contemporary art practices. This class may be waived for students with previous art experience. Students will be requested to meet with the Art Department faculty and present a portfolio of their artwork. Studio Art is a prerequisite for all other Visual Arts courses. The requirement can be waived only with a demonstration of prior experience and a conversation with the Art Department Chair.

 

Ceramics: Surface Design  •  Fall & Spring

This is an introductory course in working with clay as an artistic medium. Students will learn various hand-building techniques and basic wheel-throwing skills used to make both functional ware and ceramic sculpture. Students will also research and analyse both historical and contemporary methods of surface design and apply these techniques to build up layers of design information on their own work. Students are encouraged to explore personal interests and aesthetic through the assignments. Projects assigned will require productive use of in-class time and additional time in the studio outside of class hours. NOTE: This class is a prerequisite to all Advanced Ceramic classes. Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

Dark Room Photography  •  Fall

This course is designed to introduce the foundations of black and white photography and darkroom techniques. Historical development and technical aspects of the photographic process will be studied. Assignments are designed to help budding photographers begin to look more carefully at the world around them and explore a vision of their place in it. Assignments will require productive use of in-class time and additional time in the studio outside of class. Historical exploration will require some research, analysis, and presentation. A 35mm camera is required. Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

Drawing  •  Fall & Spring

This course is designed to help students develop their perceptual and rendering skills through sketching and drawing. Assignments will build upon each other as students grow in their perception of edges, spaces, relationships, and lights and shadows. A final project will explore contemporary drawing and develop a new definition of drawing. Students are required to keep a sketchbook for weekly, take-home assignments. Students are expected to participate fully, challenge themselves, apply their best effort, and have fun. NOTE: This class is a prerequisite to all Painting classes. Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

Form & Design  •  Fall

Form and Design is a sculpture based class where students will create works that reflect an investigation of materials and consideration towards installation methods. Projects (to name a few) will include creating sculptures with everyday materials, repurposing found objects into altered books and using natural materials to construct site specific, temporary art works. Students will also research historical and contemporary artist’s approaches in this genre.  Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

Woodworking  •  Fall

Woodworking is an introductory course in working with wood as an artistic medium. Students have the opportunity to create something of their own design using basic woodworking techniques. The class provides an introduction to the use of power tools while a more in-depth emphasis is on working with hand tools to execute several basic techniques of construction and joinery. Skills gained include drawing, planning, shaping, joining and finishing. Students are expected to apply a high level of craft to their projects. NOTE: This class is a prerequisite to Advanced Woodworking. Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

AIR  •  Fall & Spring

The Artist-in-Resident for the 2019-20 academic year will be a cartoon artist. The selected artist will be  teaching a course based in this genre.

Prerequisite: Studio Art & Drawing

 

Advanced Mixed Media (Portfolio)  •  Fall

This class is designed to guide students through the process of preparing an art portfolio for entrance to BFA programs and liberal arts colleges that accept portfolios. Students will choose colleges, create some impressive original drawings, have their work photographed, and consult with various art admissions personnel to create the most effective presentation of their work. They will view various presentations by different art programs and apply to their choice of schools by the end of the semester.

Prerequisite: Studio Art plus 2 additional art classes or prior experience and permission of instructor

 

Women Make Moving Images  •  Spring

This course will introduce students of any gender identification to the time-based work of women who have established firm ground in moving images, which will provide context to the culture of unrest between genders within the practice of filmmaking. Many genres and nationalities will be studied. The production sections let students focus on short personal works in narrative or experimental and fine arts structures using a variety of cameras and techniques. Prerequisite: Studio Art

 

Advanced Ceramics: The Potter’s Wheel  •  Spring

This class will focus on learning how to use the potters’ wheel. Students will learn how to center clay, explore various forms, trim cups and bowls, and add handles to make mugs, and glaze plates and vases. Students will also have the opportunity to explore various firing techniques and finishes. While learning these new skills students will also focus on pairing techniques while discovering their personal aesthetic with the material. Research of both historical and contemporary ceramics will enrich and inform students working visual vocabulary. Weekly sketchbook assignments are given that further examine concepts presented in class. Prerequisite: Studio Art & Ceramics 1.

 

Advanced Woodworking  •  Spring

In this intermediate-to-advanced level course, students will design and execute an original work  in wood using more challenging joinery techniques. Students are required to apply personal interests and aesthetic while establishing their own parameters and benchmarks for their project since it is unique to their design. Their project will require self-teaching with the guidance of the teacher since each student will be creating a project different from their peers.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and Furniture Design (or similar prior experience and permission of instructor)

 

Painting  •  Spring

In Painting, students will be introduced to both watercolors and acrylics. The first half of the semester will be devoted to understanding and exploring watercolor as each assignment builds off the next, investigating the potential of this medium. The second half of the semester will be spent painting with acrylics on canvas. There will be a balance of in-class assignments along with students selecting their own images to depict and render. Research of both historical applications as well as contemporary approaches will be part of this course as students discover their personal aesthetic with the material. Concepts presented in class will be further explored through weekly sketchbook assignments.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and Drawing

 

Math

Pre-Calculus  •  Year

Pre-Calculus is an in-depth study of functions and ways in which they can be manipulated.  Course topics include, but are not limited to, combinations and composition of functions, graphing transformations, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometry, rational functions, conic sections and an introduction to limits.  Pre-Calculus prepares students for Calculus by providing them with greater understanding of fundamental concepts of Algebra. Prerequisites: Algebra II.

 

Calculus  •  Year

Calculus is an advanced mathematics topic that requires abstract thought. Topics include limits, derivatives, integrals, and the applications of these topics. Prerequisites: Pre-Calculus or permission of Math Department Chair.

 

Advanced Calculus  •  Year

Advanced Calculus students will continue where they left of in Calculus, beginning with conics, parametric equations, and polar coordinates. They will then continue on to an in-depth study of vectors and vector-valued functions, partial derivatives, multiple integration, and differential equations if time permits. Prerequisites: Calculus.


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