Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sing shanties and tie sailor knots — for course credit? At Dexter Southfield, a group of Upper School students get to spend a semester at sea, though in a literary, not literal sense.
The class immerses students into the “salty and seductive realm of swashbucklers and navies” as they explore the influence of the maritime on politics, economics and character by studying classic texts.
The course includes readings of fiction by Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Steinbeck, poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christina Rossetti and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and nonfiction by Tania Aebi.
In addition to reading and writing essays, the students also get to take a hands-on approach, by learning to tie various types of sailor knots, performing a sea chantey, writing a nautically themed short story and visiting the USS Constitution.
Though this is the first semester the class has been offered, the feedback has been very positive so far, as students enjoy integrating the classic texts with real-life experiences. According to course instructor Laird Kopp, “students and their parents have expressed appreciation for the ways in which the demanding reading and writing assignments have been given context and enlivened.”