Sparhawk High School Thematic Course Catalog Fall 2010 Ancient Civilizations

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Sparhawk High School

Thematic Course Catalog
Fall 2010
Ancient Civilizations

What is a civilization? Why do civilizations flourish and fail? How do modern and ancient civilizations compare? How do civilizations define and protect the rights of citizens? What is a citizen? How can we define what is ancient? How have ancient civilizations shaped the modern experience? This semester, we will explore these and other important questions through our multidisciplinary study of Ancient Civilizations. From the literature of the ancients to the beginning of major scientific discovery, from Greek drama to the history of mathematics, we will challenge ourselves to understand the ways in which ancient thought and civilizations have shaped our global culture.



1/2 Credit Science

Physics is sometimes called the basic science or natural philosophy. It is the study of unanswered questions about nature. As mankind learned more of the world, was slowly split into branches of science. The study of living things is called life sciences and includes biology, botany and zoology. The study of non-living is called physical sciences and includes areas such as chemistry, astronomy, geology and physics. Today, physics is dedicated to the study of basic things such as motion, forces, energy, heat, sound, light and the composition of atoms. The ideas of physics are fundamental to all of the sciences. This class will explore the basic laws starting from the days of Newton and Galileo. It will explore the principal aspects of the scientific method, an approach to exploration and discovery that has shown to be the most productive in unraveling nature’s mysteries. Knowledge of physics is useful for many careers since it provides a basic understanding of what is going on around us. One can see and utilize knowledge of physics in much that is happening in current events. Shuttle space flights; the Hubble Telescope and operation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe are common news features. Issues concerning use of nuclear energy and high-efficiency electric cars are key issues that all involve physics. This course will provide some of the detail necessary for understanding and participating in society’s decisions on these programs. Good math skills are very useful for this class


1/2 Credit Science


This course will begin with the intensive microscopic study of single cells, and a layer in complexity at the tissue, organ, and system level. By the time we reach the level of whole organisms, we will be looking for overall ecological systems, and introduce large-scale cycles that mirror the physiology of individual cells. Throughout the semester, students will explore the physiological and behavioral evolution of hominids through an exploration of important studies and current theory. This course is fundamental to our entire thematic catalog: the literal experience of what it is to become human.

History of Astronomy

1/2 Credit Science

Astronomy has been on the cutting edge of science since ancient times.  We will study the past, present, and future of astronomy and seek answers to questions as old as "Does the sun orbit the Earth or vice versa?" and as current as "Is Pluto a planet?" We will also consider questions that have yet to be answered, such as "Are there parallel universes to our own?" and "Where are all the aliens anyway?"  Join us for a voyage of discovery from Earth to the farthest reaches of space and time.


Essentials of Writing

1/2 Credit Literature


The purpose of this class is to help students develop their basic writing skills. We will write a number of short papers, learning how to strengthen thesis statements, grammar, and paragraph transitions. We will practice our writing in class, paying particular attention to persuasive writing, but exploring creative writing, as well. Most readings and writing will be short, but expect to do both frequently.

Greco-Roman Drama

1/2 Credit Literature

This course will explore the ancient theatre of Greece and Rome. Students will learn how to both read and interpret ancient drama from a literary perspective as well as a theatrical understanding. With weekly readings and in-class performances, students will help these ancient stories come alive in the classroom. Come prepared to join the Greek chorus!

Creative Writing Poetry: Influence of the Ancients

1/2 Credit Literature

Ancient Civilizations ushered in the explosion of poetic aesthetics in newly developed landscape of verse. We will study the great changes that have marked poetry for the past one thousand years and use this understanding to enhance our own writing. Writing workshops will pay particular attention to narrative voice and language use. Students will create portfolios and must be willing to have their work carefully critiqued by their peers.

World Literature: Homer’s Odyssey

1/2 Credit Literature

This class will concentrate solely on The Odyssey, one of the most widely read epic poems, if not works of literature, in the world. Dealing with revolutions of political systems, personal understanding, and spirituality, Homer’s work relates directly to revolutions of the ancient world. Students will study theme, imagery, line formation, plot twist, and Greek culture in an effort to understand the literature with deeper levels of knowing. Students will assess strategy in and create a three-dimensional model of Odysseus’ travels in The Odyssey. Onward to ancient Greece!

World Literature: Greco-Roman Politics and the Formation of Western Character

1/2 Credit Literature

Exploiting both primary and secondary documents, this course examines the consequences of aggression in the evolution of the classical world. We will focus particularly upon several representative poets, comedians, tragedians, philosophers and historians in seeking to understand the nature of conflict, life, death, politics and religion in the Greco-Roman context. Among the authors under consideration are: Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, Tacitus, Juvenal, Caesar, Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Sallust, Vergil and more.

Global Understanding

And History

World History: Greek History

1/2 Credit History

This history course will focus exclusively on Ancient Greece. There will be a heavy focus on the philosophical movements of the time, the wars between city-states Athens and Sparta, the expansion of Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean, and the foundations of democracy. Students will also study the roots of language and will analyze how we are still today impacted by Ancient Greek culture.

World History: Roman History

1/2 Credit History

This course focuses exclusively on Ancient Roman History. From the founding of Rome to the wars with Greece and North African nations, Roman history is rich in art, architecture, drama, and political turmoil. Students will focus on how the Roman culture rose in prominence, fell under poor leadership, and, again, expanded into an empire.

World History: Egyptian History

1/2 Credit History

Egypt’s rich history has fascinated scholars for thousands of years. From the rising pyramids to the ancient death rituals, Egypt stands as one of the most impressive of early civilizations. Students will study the chain of Egyptian dynasties, the lines of pharaoh succession, the socio-economic divide between the ruling class and those that served them, and how art affected communication.

The History of Mathematics

1/2 Credit History

Based on the book, The Saga of Mathematics - A Brief History, this class explores the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Greeks, and their contributions to mathematics. The book discusses the relation of mathematics to music, art, science, technology, and philosophy. It features geometry, number theory, algebra, probability, graph theory, ancient and modern counting systems. This course is suitable for all students who have completed Algebra II, and possibly for honors Algebra I students. Prerequisite: Algebra II or permission of instructor

Creative Arts

Ancient Art and Architecture

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

In this course, we will explore the aesthetics of ancient civilizations through their surviving arts and architectures. Because the entirety of the ancient world was originally handcrafted, we will look at the ways in which art has evolved from a purely functional practice to the dynamic experience it is today. This course will be a combination of art history, appreciation, and applied art.

Choreography of the Ancients

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

For this course, we will use the universal stories of ancient cultures to inform the creation of original dance works. We will explore dance techniques in many styles, and study how other choreographers have used ancient stories to appeal to modern audiences. Be prepared to move, experiment, and create significant works of dance with your peers. There will be opportunities for both collaborative and individual work. Students with all levels of dance experience can sign up for this course. Advanced students will be challenged and beginners will be encouraged.


1/2 Credit Creative Arts

Clay is a medium which use has spanned the ages.  From its geological origin to the use of its properties as a functional, architectural, and sculptural instrument, clay possesses a rich history.  It offers a sensorial quality unlike any other medium.  This course is an introduction to the sculptural and functional approaches to ceramics. We will explore basic hand building techniques, wheel throwing and ceramic sculpture, as well as the basic use of glazing and finishing techniques. Examples of work, studio visits and/or an exhibition is incorporated.  This class will also serve as forum for discussion of historical and contemporary art making issues in the medium of clay.  

Drawing and Painting

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

Ancient civilizations had expansive artistic creation. Drawing stood as both one of the first “written” and artistic expressions. In this course, students will develop their drawing and painting skills. Students will learn different techniques and experiment with materials.


1/2 Credit Creative Arts

Sing popular, classical, multi-cultural, and folk music in this hands-on course and perform as well.  Develop your singing technique, sight-reading skills, and have fun with others making music.  All abilities are welcome.

Introduction Music Theory: The Musical Ear

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

This course will seek to understand and develop the human musical ear.  We will explore how music expresses emotion; can be used for communication, and why it has existed since the beginning of human history.  Music Theory elements include ear training and dictation that will begin to prepare students for further composition.   Further elements of music theory including chords, form, scales, keys, and active music listening will be explored.

Advanced Music Theory

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

This course is designed for those students who have previously taken a music theory course. Students will study advanced composition, will create their own compositions, and will practice the skills of counterpoint. Serious musical interest is necessary for this class.

Instrumental Band

1/2 Credit Creative Arts

In this course, students will found the first ever Sparhawk Orchestral Band. Prior knowledge of an instrument is helpful, but not necessary, as students will be learning new instruments together. There will be ample opportunities for public performances, and students with an interest in learning an instrument are encouraged to join this class. Please note that students will be responsible for renting or buying their instruments. The instructor will help with this process.

Personal Development

and Philosophy

Beginnings: First Year Seminar

1/4 Credit PDV/Philosophy


First-year students will learn the basics of writing research papers, note taking, time management, and how to be a Sparhawk student. There will be ample amounts of time for work on large projects or papers. This is a required course of all freshmen.

Media Literacy and Current Events: Sophomore Seminar

1/4 Credit PDV/Philosophy


Second-year students will learn how to read media, both televised and written. The New York Times, Boston Globe, and television news will be our guides, as well as the writings of American philosopher, Neil Postman. Students will follow current events and be responsible for participating in debates and Model U.N.

Test Prep

1/4 Credit PDV/Philosophy


This course is required of all third-year students. Students will learn test-taking techniques in preparation for the SAT and ACT exams. Students will be required to take the PSAT in the fall.

College Readiness

1/4 Credit PDV/Philosophy


In this course, seniors will take their college applications from initial search to finalized and mailed. Using our ConnectEdu software, students will, with guidance, move from high school senior to college applicant.

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