Urban Laboratory Makes School Cool for New Yorkers
Led by Andy Meyers, a history teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City, "City Semester is an immersive, city-focused course that combines classwork and field studies for juniors at Fieldston," and sounds like the perfect solution for overcoming the interminable boredoms of high school.
Berg describes the multidisciplinary course as such: "It's like other semester away programs run by the school, but instead of sending kids out to the Rocky Mountains or the Maine coast, students in the City Semester program turn their attention to their own neighborhood and city. Meyers has compiled a broad range of teachers from the school to participate, including teachers focusing on history, ethics, language, theater, literature, film, photography and music."
One of the focal points of the section of course dedicated to neighborhood and community renewal is a two-day canoe trip down the Bronx River, in which "The students collect scientific data about the water and the ecology and make presentations about both the history of the neighborhoods and the development of the river habitats. Meyers says this approach pulls in what the students are learning and relates it to things they see in their day-to-day experiences and the neighborhoods around them."
"Adolescents are at a place in their lives where understanding the relevance of what they're learning can make an enormous difference in terms of their engagement," Meyers says.