Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Reading: Philbrick's Mayflower

There's nothing like reading a book set in the location where you are reading. And it also helps to be FROM that region and know it well. And so while in Rhode Island this summer I opened up Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower reluctantly finished it a couple of weeks and some 400 pages later. Normally, my big summer book is an absorbing novel, and I was surprised to find this 2007 work just as engrossing as any novel I could have read. Philbrick's narrative, you-were-there style, informed by solid research and scholarship, puts you at ground level with the Mayflower Pilgrims, the native peoples they found around them,, and what happened between 1620 and 1675, when King Philip's war was over and the native population of what is now southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island was a weak remnant.

We've learned over recent decades that a lot of our "founding myth" was based on partial truths and sentimental images from the late 19th century. But it turns out there's a lot more to be known, for those able and willing to go to the sources or to read this book. Most of those things we learned as children are, to some extent, true, but the fuller picture is much more real and interesting than the paper cutout images of the First Thanksgiving.

I came away with a newly animated landscape map in my mind and a new admiration for the determined Philip and of Benjamin Church, one of the much under-celebrated early colonists.
Iamges are present-day views of Wampanoag territory on the shores of Rhode Island.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lunar Eclipse!

Thanks to a timely email reminder from science teacher Ashby Barnes, many students and faculty on campus last Thursday evening kept an eye on the moon throughout study hall, as the shadow nibbled away. And when study hall was over, we could go outdoors and watch the splendid glowing orange of the total eclipse.

And a thousand thanks to Mr. Barnes for this terrific picture.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"I'm selling some shares of Verizon!."

Mr. Chase's math students are fired up with their latest project, "investing" in the stock market. Instead of groaning about homework these young men are rushing to the library computers and elsewhere to see whose stocks are up and whose are down and who's made the most that day.

"Oh darn, it's not 9:00 yet!" said one student eagerly. "Why?" "Because that's when the stock market opens!" (It turns out that the opeing time is 9:25.)
Using the website Virtual Stock Exchange students are registered for a "game" in which they are as fully engaged as any adult checking his investments. "I'm selling some of my Netflix and buying more Verizon!" "Yesterday I was number twelve, and today I'm number two!" "What stocks do you have?"
While it's common at C.S. to see students actively engaged in learning, this project is a chart topper for the interest generated and learning involved. Those of us whose schooling was some years ago weren't always this lucky: Some of us never learned anything about economics or the stock market in school.
Hats off to Mr. Chase for this wonderful learning adventure! There are many such authentic projects going on at C.S., and St. Dunstan will try to feature these from time to time, when he has his camera handy

Thursday, January 31, 2008

By Dewey! The 200s

The 200s are not the largest section nor the most often visited at St. Dunstan's, but for the inquiring reader who wants to learn more about the faith, it contains are some gems. Today the good saint features three titles. Jack Miles' God: a Biography is a fresh approach to looking at the God of the Hebrew scriptures.

From the back cover: "Miles shows us a God who evolves through his relationship with man, the image who in time becomes his rival..., the Creator who nearly destroys his chief creation."

For a quicker read, the saint suggests two volumes in the Penguin Lives series Garry Wills' Saint Augustine and Martin Marty's Martin Luther. The books in this series are meant not as scholarly tomes but as short, well-written introduction to famous historical figures, written by top scholars and writers.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thw Wind Rustles the Leaves of Son of Oak Tree: Part Three

The second oak tree replacement did not survive, so a week or so ago a new oak was planted, twice as big as the last. Everyone loved watching the enormous digger that planted it. it's covered with its dry winter leaves and, well-braced, is rustling in the cold winds of January. We hope that this one will be a survivor: it's a very handsome tree.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January Snow

To the delight of the boys, we had a classic snowfall last week. Unlike the public schools, where you're likely to be reprimanded for throwing a snowball, our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves all day between classes In the evening after study hall the football field was the arena for an enormous snow battle. In the morning the hillsides showed myriad sledding tracks. For many boys, this was the first time they'd ever seen snow. It didn't deter them at all that this snow fall was especially wet, the kind that drenches your clothing. The pictures show the chapel bell, Yard A, and the view from the library windows.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good fences make good neighbors?

Apologies to Robert Frost, but I had to say something about fences in the title. The subject is the lovely new fence around the soccerand lacrossefield and track, just in time to anticipate the spring season. The light wasn't right for a look at the fence from the field, but here is the approach from the road: