Benjamin Verdoes
  • Trent Moorman
  • Benjamin Verdoes

In Terrance McKittrick's philosophy class at Nova High School, there aren't desks lined up in aisles, there are sofas in a semicircle. The arrangement fosters back-and-forth discussion instead of one-way lecturing, and like the rest of Nova, it's different than most high schools. A block from Country Doctor and Kingfish Cafe on 20th between Republican and East John, Nova is a refuge for students who want and need something other than the mainstream high-school setting. At Nova, students find their people and their pursuits, and participate in what interests them. Students and teachers collaborate to define a non-graded curriculum and ways to satisfy that coursework. Gay and transgender students are welcomed, protected, and given support networks.

The class I'm sitting in on is studying French philosopher Baudrillard and his simulacra theories. By the end of the hour, the class has applied the concepts to Die Antwoord, discussing how Ninja and Yo-Landi evolved themselves and took hold of their future by engaging a hyperreality. The students' interaction with the subject matter is impressive. McKittrick presents the material in an interesting way. Holograms, Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, and Disneyland are also involved. The students seem to genuinely want to be there. I don't want to leave. Wait, when did learning like this start happening in high-school education?

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