Stepping Away from Traditional Coursework

3 mins read

By Maram Sharif ’22

In December of 2021, Frederick Gunn School students were granted the option of taking one of 20 Winterim courses. Several of them featured local or regional travel options. All were created by faculty members who, in many cases, teamed up to co-teach and combine their experience in their respective fields. For three weeks, students abandoned standard classwork in favor of a curriculum focused on immersive student learning. Each course was purposefully focused; it served as a knowledge-rich trip through a topic of particular interest to the student. Students got to connect with a knowledgeable teacher, engage with motivated classmates, and dig deep into one big question. We interviewed three students from three different courses to find out how they felt about their Winterim course. Let’s take a look: 

Winifred Ezenwata ‘22 enrolled in Poetry in Translation:

“In my Winterim, we looked at poems in Russian, French, Spanish, Vietnamese and more. 

As a fan of poetry myself, I enjoyed reading the original versions of works done by famous poets and the different versions of their translations. My bilingual ability enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the French poems and give insight into the original poems. The discussions I had with my peers and teachers put an interesting perspective on the poems in the different ways they were translated, which led to our final project of translating a poem ourselves.”

Sidney Mutau ‘23 from Building Network through Conference:

“For my winterim I did Building Network Through Conference, which was not what I had originally expected. I thought we were going to attend conferences and network there, but we did not do that. Instead, we discussed topics ranging from race, sexual identity, and gender to networks and influences. Our final project was to create a conference within our groups about a specific topic and build workshops discussing the chosen topics. My group chose to focus on gender and sexual identity for our conference and my workshop was specifically about intersectionality. I particularly liked stepping out of my comfort zone to explore different and difficult topics through film, research, and discussion. We had to interview people in our networks to discuss the topics of our conference and incorporate the interviews into our workshops which was really fun. I also enjoyed it because my teacher made the class engaging by sharing about himself and encouraging us to share about ourselves which helped connect the class to our lives and make it more personal.” 

Our writer, Peter Murphy ‘24 from Histories Art in Five Movements:

“In my Winterim, we learned about different well-known artists including Michelangelo, De Vinci, and Van Gough. My favorite part about it was visiting a variety of museums in Boston, Upstate Massachusetts, The Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection in New York. After appreciating the art in those museums, we would make presentations about a certain type of art and share it with our peers. My experience was overall an enjoyable one and I appreciate the opportunity to view art from a new perspective.”

And finally, our very own Bridie Strowe ‘24 who was a part of Gunn Goes to Washington DC:

“This was my first Winterim course at Gunn, but it was so special! My class learned about modern America’s politics and civil rights through our history, but the best part was our trip to DC. We left at 8:45 in the morning of Sunday, December 5th, and returned around 10pm on the 10th! Every day was packed with activities organized by ‘Close-up: DC’, the organization we went with. Our days were filled with discussions, visits to museums, memorials and landmarks, and culture studies in classic DC neighborhoods. The whole trip was fun, but among my favorite parts was our visit to the museums on the National Mall (Smithsonian Air and Space, Natural History, and the National Gallery, African American History and Culture). My favorite museum was the National Gallery, mostly because they had temporary exhibits of Renoir, Vermeer, and Cassat! The African American History and Culture museum was amazing too! Being in DC allowed everyone to see our government up close and fully understand all of its inner workings. We got to see the protests of current issues, and the history of old ones. I was really sad when I found out we couldn’t take the same  winterim course, but being there contributed to my decision to be in Model UN. This way, I can go back to DC in February, and I hope to study there someday as well!”

Photo Curtesy of Frederick Gunn

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