January/February 2012

Academically we’ve worked on the profoundly rich center of world cultural transformation, the Renaissance, which had such a dramatic and continuing effect on the arts, architecture, science, literature, philosophy, religion and economics. We studied perspective and copied Raphael’s famous masterpiece “ School of Athens “, using rulers and compasses.
We studied the works of the other Italians Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio, Boticelli, Masaccio, Brunellesci, Donatello, and the Flemish masters Van Dyke, Van Eyck, Frans Hals, Holbein, Albrecht Durer and the inimitable Breughel.
The works of the Humanists shaped Renaissance thought; Petrarch, Erasmus, Thomas More and even Machiavelli’s The Prince influenced thinkers of the period. Shakespeare profoundly explored human personality.
In science we marveled at the incredible innovations that changed the world views and form the foundation of our scientific understanding to this day. Koepler, Copernicus’ Heliocentric Theory, Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Great Systems of the World in Astronomy, Vesalius on Anatomy, Harvey on the Circulatory System, Descartes and Bacon advanced Scientific Reasonong and Scientific Method, Newton”s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy contained his laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation.
Leeuwenhoek used the new tool the microscope to discover bacteria, Hooke used the microscope to develop Cell Theory, Boyle founded modern Chemistry, Priestly discovered oxygen, and Lavoisier developed the law of the Conservation of Matter; truly a Scientific Revolution.
Tetzel’s Indulgences, pardons for sins that could be bought from the Church ( to pay for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica, and Pope Leo’s lavish parties) infuriated Luther . He felt compelled to write his 96 Theses and so begin the powerful tide of change known as the Protestant Reformation that swept across Europe. The Calvinists and Predestination, the Counter- Reformation by the popes, the Council of Trent, and all this religious upheaval inspired the development of education and the founding of many universities.
The Printing Press began to bring new ideas to more and more people.
The standardization of money, joint stock companies, mercantilism, wealthy banking families and the balance of trade, coupled with advances in mapmaking, the compass and the astrolabe, and political rivalries, all led to the age of Exploration,; that will be our next educational exploration.
We’ve been diligently working our way through a list of 500 commonly misspelled words; the children seem to derive satisfaction from working on their spelling.
We’ve been doing in situ Perspective drawing of the architecture at Cornell, and complicated geometric drawing in class. We’ve visited the Lab of Ornithology, Newman and Trumansburg Golf Courses, and we are working with the Sciencenter to hook up the two windmills we built there.
In honor of Dicken’s 200th birthday we’ve been very enthusiastically reading “ Great Expectations”.
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