Monday, June 18, 2007

Queens School of Inquiry

Just when I feared teaching for the test had driven creative thought from all public schools, I
ran head long into QSI, Queens School of Inquiry. My friend and colleague from Brooklyn College, Illana Block, had directed me to the school, encouraging me to submit a proposal for a
college immersion program. Being immersed myself in Sophocles these days, having written a one act adaptation of ANTIGONE, I proposed that I introduce a class of 80 vivacious (and sometimes loquacious) seventh graders to my all time favorite angry teen. Not only did the kids
take to Antigone immediately, they enjoyed meeting her ill fated family, as well as raising
provocative questions about the nature of fate and free will.

If any of my College Immersion students or their equally vivacious teachers stop by, I do hope you blog back!

This is an excerpt of an article by one of the program's masterminds, Mary Beth Schaeffer-- for any of my academic friends who balked at the idea of integrating 7th graders into college life!



It was not only summer session at Queens College—it was also College Immersion week for the seventh grade at the QSI. On Monday, nervous and excited students kept close to their teachers’ elbows and bumped into each other as they consulted maps and schedules. By Friday, the maps were gone and QSI students were kings of the campus, chatting on their way to class, laughing with friends, finding their way to bathrooms and classrooms with practiced ease.
There were some courses that all three QSI classes shared: Greek Drama, Library, Physical Education and Classroom. The daily two-hour college courses were much smaller, with 8-12 students in each: these classes will be discussed in next week’s update. I will have a better understanding of how students fared in their smaller classes after they present their projects to the sixth grade on Monday and I read their reflections and tally up the results of the course surveys.

Antigone: Fate or Free Will?
Award-winning playwright Eileen Ressler opened up our week with a stunning hour and a half introduction to the Greek theater, Oedipus, Antigone, and the concepts of Fate, Destiny and Free Will. Using a combination of lecture, question/answer, writing, performance, quizzes and a showing of scenes from Jean Anouilh’s rendition of Antigone, Professor Ressler captured students’ interest and generated questions from them that stunned even their teachers: for example, our students wondered, “How can you change your destiny if you don’t know the actions that might lead to it?” and “Why do authority figures [in Greek Drama] attract trouble?” and “Can you change destiny?”
Thanks again QSI!


At 10:26 AM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

You are top drawer!

At 6:50 AM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

Okay, sister, I need a fill of Eben's wit and wisdom. Pour it on the page!

At 7:42 PM , Blogger Eben Reilly said...


If not for you I'd feel like the Maytag Washer Repair guy-- for anyone not old enough to remember the commercials, which ran about the time when Friday night Flintstones were not re-runs, knows he was a lonesome man waiting for the phone to ring. Ready to work, but no one was calling.

Thanks, for calling, Pal-- I'll go blog now. Have been wanting to report on two celebrations: Father's Day and Blue Moon.

At 7:43 PM , Blogger Eben Reilly said...

PS : however, just noticed there have been nearly 900 visitors to the site. Who are these phantoms?
Why do they come, read and dissolve into cyber space without a trace?


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