New Class Offerings Challenge Students’ Leadership, Learning Capacities

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Among the visions we pursue here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is for each of our nation’s students to become meaningfully engaged in his or her own education. That objective sounds good on paper, but where it differs from other schools is that our own students — students here at Eagle Rock School — actually learn in part by engaging.

What is standard practice here at Eagle Rock — and what we have made available to our students for more than two decades — are both traditional and nontraditional classroom offerings that ignite the imagination, encourage curiosity, and prepare young minds for the real world.


With that in mind, we have just introduced seven new classes to the curriculum for this, the second half of our first trimester at Eagle Rock for 2018. These five-week classes join three 10-week classes that began in January and are still underway.

Those 10-week classes include Data Analysis, where students continue to use statistics to look for patterns to self-generated questions. A second 10-week class — Neuroscience — has students examining not only the physical makeup of the brain, but the physiology, or habits, of the human nervous system. And in Exposure, the third 10-week class, students have been mastering black & white photography, processing their film in a darkroom, and are now preparing their photographs for a public exhibition in just a few weeks.

Below is a brief description of the new classes at Eagle Rock that got underway just this week:

Leaders Here, Leaders There  This Leadership for Justice class offers students the opportunity to examine their strengths and styles as future leaders. By working in the Rocky Mountain National Park alongside select Park Service employees, students are interviewing officials of the National Park Service (NPS) to learn how they lead their employees. They are also looking at how the NPS is addressing its diversity and relevancy to America’s changing demographics. (For those unfamiliar with Leadership for Justice, it is one of our 5 Expectations here at Eagle Rock — it helps students understand that leaders promote and model systems that support equity and empower others to take action.)

Math Leadership  Not only are students learning math in this class, they are part of a movement that’s changing the status quo of math education in the U.S. Eagle Rock students will be training with members of the Young People’s Project (YPP), which is a national math advocacy group that promotes the right to a high-quality public school education. Working with students at Estes Park Elementary School several days a week, members of the class will coach teams of students in a math activity called The FlagwayTM Game. The other class days are spent learning and preparing for coaching, as well as planning actions they can take here at Eagle Rock. The end result is to teach children math in a way that supports their long-term success.

Organizing for Social Change: Massive social change starts with utilizing the skills necessary to drive such change in the place. In this class, students are exploring three skills required of those who seek social change:

  • Writing
  • Public speaking
  • Community organizing

Here, our students are learning why each of these skills became so important for survival and how they can foster engaged global citizenship by work toward mastery of these specific skills. Along with understanding the history behind social change, students in this class are practicing and honing up on their writing, public speaking, and community organizing so they too can play a role in advocating and organizing for social change.

American Sign Language (ASL) — In this class, students are learning to communicate with one another and the deaf by learning ASL. By using hand gestures and facial expressions, they are building their vocabulary without speaking. They’re accomplishing this through games, challenges, activities — and tons of practice. In addition, students are learning about deaf culture, opening the way to not only a new language, but a new way of communicating with others.

Fiberlicious  Fashion and style are at the forefront of this class, with Eagle Rock students practicing a variety of fiber art techniques. Here, they’re learning how to felt wool (i.e., shrink it), paint on silk, use hot wax to batik, and develop a deeper understanding of color mixing by using natural and synthetic dyes. At the end of the trimester, students will have their own original wearable art and be able to describe its historic and cultural significance to admirers of their new clothing.

Myth of the Artist — Students in this class are exploring the intersection of visual culture and gender, examining how gender has been constructed through the visual arts historically and today. They are analyzing examples of the gendered body, race, class, and sexual orientation in visual art, and transferring that analysis into written arguments. Each student is also responsible for curating and presenting an exhibit that explains the relationship between visual art and societal norms.

Holocaust and Human Behavior  This class takes a deep dive into critical thinking by concentrating on the victims, witnesses, collaborators, rescuers and perpetrators behind the holocaust of World War II that saw six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime. Students are exploring the universal themes inherent in a study of the holocaust that raise profound questions about human behavior today. Just a few days into this class and our students are discovering that there are no easy answers to the complex problems of racism, antisemitism, hatred, and violence.

Psychology of Decision Making — Psychology is the study of mind and behavior, and in this class, Eagle Rock School students are exploring themselves as individuals as well from society’s perspective. Topics include risk versus reward, group think, prejudice and stereotypes, and change blindness. Here, our students are looking at different ways of thinking with the objective of applying that knowledge to help others understand — and practice — the psychology of decision making.

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