Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stones for Children
Studying the Da Vinci Code

Maybe we complain about New Trier H.S. too much. It turns out there are schools where parents should really be concerned. In an interesting find today, I discovered a high school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is teaching a course on Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code. The teacher, Jonathan Carter, at Pace Academy, has a blog which details the assignments, including a letter to parents, which read by itself, should raise concern. While this teacher admits that "the novel itself does touch on material that requires a mature and open mind," there is also a posting about the non-availability of bathroom breaks from class, making the casual observer question whether these teens are really ready for anything "mature."

To his credit, Mr. Carter has a fairly good set of assignments, including one at the Louvre website, but is it a good use of a students time to research the answers to questions such as "Did Leonardo marry? What was his romantic life like?"

Pace Academy is a charter school, which is a creation of the "No Child Left Behind Act." Most children in charter schools desperately need basics: basic reading, basic writing, basic math, basic skills. Somehow, it would seem that a more meat-and-potatoes curriculum would serve the students better at this school, most of whom are headed to junior colleges or vocational training.

Note: Looking for Da Vinci Code info? For those readers looking to brush up on the religious implications of the Da Vinci Code, you can find plenty of information at several blogs and websites. Off the Wire has a comprehensive set of resources, as does Leadership U (scroll down), and Emergesque. Interested in Opus Dei? Their newly designed website is just in time for the movie, which opens May 19.

Update Note: Heard about the English judge who wrote the opinion on the Da Vinci Code plagerism case? That opinion has its own mystery with a code embedded by the use of italics in the text. ? You can read about that here and here, with commentary and notes here. If you want to read the opinion, her Majesty's Courts Services has the Pdf file here.


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