Friday, May 18, 2012

Honors Humanities Class at Merit

Merit Academy Humanities Seminar (For grades 7-12)
Instructors: Gregory Duffin and Joni Newman

9-12: M/W/F from approximately 8:30-10:45
7-9: M/W/F from approximately 10:50-1:14

Merit Academy's Humanities Seminar is one of the most unique and innovative classes a student can participate in.  Taught by two dynamic teachers, students in the Humanities Seminar learn history and English together.  This approach allows students to focus on making connections between topics that the average eye would see as unrelated.  (Ever thought of comparing Confucius to Atticus Finch?)  These connections also help us as a class to focus on how education inside the classroom impacts our lives outside of it, preparing students mentally for the "real world".

The class rotates through a four year cycle of curriculum topics.  Next year we are teaching one of our favorites - the Ancient World.  Students will engage with Socrates, Ancient Egyptian funerary texts, Confucius, the Bhagavad Gita, and many other original sources.  They will then connect these texts to several classic novels looking at the theme of how ancient values fit in a modern world.  Students will read books like Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  They will also participate in several field trips throughout the year, including class trips to the Hare Krishna temple in Salem, Temple Square in Salt Lake, and Utah Lake.  There are additional class "club" trips to the symphony and theatrical productions throughout the year so that we can expand our cultural vocabulary.

The curriculum of the class is primarily based on essay writing and long term projects.  This approach allows students to pursue topics that they are interested in and excited about.  It does, however, assume that students are interested in their education and in life.  Some students find this approach crippling and scary - others find it freeing and are able to grow and push themselves further than any teacher would be able to with a set of worksheets.  Because of this, admission to the class is based on application.  The application is not judged based on grades but on desire.  As long as we have room in the class, we will accept any student who finishes the application and demonstrates the desire and choice to participate.

Students interested in this class must sign up for the entire class.  We do not teach English one period and history the other - the curriculum is too integrated to divide it, so you must commit to both class periods.

We are excited about the potential of next year's class and look forward to hearing from you.  If you have any questions, please contact us at and we will contact you as soon as we are able.

Students who are interested in the class but are unable to take it because of time or distance constraints are welcome to register for the online version of the class called Vigilance Family Education.  Vigilance allows students of all ages (K-12) to learn similar topics at an age appropriate level at the same time.  Currently the Vigilance Senior program includes the Ancient World and Early United States History sections.  Next year we will be introducing the 2oth Century American class.  Contact us for more information, or contact our distributer (Harmony Education) for information.


Thank you,

Gregory Duffin

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