The Board of Education recently approved several new courses that will be offered for the first time next year. One recent trend is a focus on challenging traditional curriculum and building on DHS’ existing roster of interdisciplinary courses. The English department, in particular, is opening up new courses for seniors, allowing students to explore different topics in their classes while still fulfilling their English graduation requirement. The new offerings for English courses are The Nature of Competition and the other is Race and Identity, which is also called “REAL.”
In Race and Identity students will explore literature that helps students understand society better by reading books that deal with race. Students will also study works that highlight gender, sexuality, religion, and class and show the intersectionality between these categories. Overall, the students will understand how these categories uphold long-standing power structures and impact our citizens and society. Students will learn thoughtful ways to bring about positive change in the world by exploring ways to question and challenge these power structures. This class will help students to better understand themselves in order to interact and collaborate effectively with the word beyond.
In The Nature of Competition students will explore several different themes connected with the competitive nature in our lives and how it impacts our values. They will include important social questions, and there will be a variety of texts offered in the categories from nonfiction, fiction, essays and even personal narratives.
Creative Communications is not new but will be open to sophomores in addition to juniors, starting next year. The class came out of a partnership Mr. Elliot Hurtig and Mr. Christopher Sykora built through the Humans of DHS Project a few years ago, in which they combined writing and interviewing skills with photography skills to make a more impactful project. It stems from the philosophy that learning shouldn’t be divided into subjects the way they were in the past, but rather interdisciplinary approaches that synthesize skills, experiences, and context in a natural way in order to allow for more student voice.
Mr. Sykora states that “Creativity is considered a top three job skill needed in the current workforce, but when is this purposefully taught, especially outside of fine art classes. When have you ever learned what exactly creativity is and how to be creative? Collaboration is another top three job skill, and a foundational element of the class as well.”
There is also the issue of enrollment. If not enough people sign up for the class, it won’t happen. Sykora shares that these courses offer “Excitement, freedom, expression, being hungry for something creative and unlimited in scope or approach. Being able to support or explore areas of strength or struggle through multiple modalities of learning.
In addition to these new English offerings, in the Fine Arts department, there is Advanced Dance Repertoire. Also in the Fine Arts department, Deerfield Film and TV Production, Musical Theatre, Company, and Tech Design will be offered at the Honors level.
Moving on to the Applied Arts Department, OYAD/ Yearbook has changed its course credit from English elective credit to an Applied Arts credit.
Along with these regular school year courses, the first new summer school course, FUSE. HPHS science teacher Shannon Bain addressed the context for offering FUSE in the summertime, “This was created at Northwestern University by the Learning Sciences Professor Reed Stevens. FUSE was initially designed with the expectation that it would be implemented in various out-of-school contexts. The district had noticed a gap the student had related to all things STEAM. This was the idea behind the creation of this class.”
Each school year brings new courses which enliven the DHS community. As the curriculum evolves, new opportunities emerge. And despite the homework load that will come with, DHS is excited to embrace these new changes and the insight and creativity these courses will surely unleash.