Courses

Course Catalog

At Insight Colearning Center the curriculum is designed to give students multiple paths through a school year with coherent and overlapping themes. Because students are only required to take 3-4 classes per semester, students may find their own road through the fulfillment of key requirements. For example, in Academic Year 2019-20 (see below), a student who wishes to be particularly math intensive in their first year might take Algebra I and Logic and Proof in their first semester, and Trigonometry and Programming Basics in their second, gaining credit for Algebra I, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Applied and Conceptual Mathematics all in their first year. Other students may prefer to pursue their practical Mathematical understanding through a less traditional approach, and might fulfill their Geometry requirement through Logic and Proof, and their Algebra requirement through Programming Basics, with support from the instructor and their advisor.

Humanities and science courses are designed both to build on one another and to provide self-contained wholes as well. For example, a student who takes Environmental Chemistry in Spring 2020 would find that their knowledge of Botany from Fall 2019 is useful and deepened; however a student who has not taken Botany will not be at a disadvantage. Similarly, the courses in Buddhist Literatures and Buddhist History can speak to and deepen one another, but the former is not a prerequisite for the latter; and so too with Revolutions of Europe and the Americas. In addition, Logic and Proof in Fall 2019 may build a strong foundation for Philosophy in the West in Spring 2020; but Women’s Literature in England provides a different kind of entree to philosophical questions, one which is no less valuable.

Insight’s courses are meant to work together in a variety of ways, and through one-on-one advising students will be supported in their efforts to choose a path that appeals to them while also fulfilling their graduation and phase requirements. This support doesn’t end after students have chosen their courses either. During advising they are assisted in the process of drawing connections across their coursework as they look to future courses as well.

Upcoming Courses (Academic Year 2019-20)

Fall Semester

Core Courses

This course serves as an introduction to Algebra from a practical mathematics standpoint, and is focused on solving explicitly stated mathematical problems that have (potentially many) clear procedural solutions. In addition to learning the basics of algebra, students will get practice manipulating variables and equations so that they are easier to solve and will cultivate and deepen their understanding of procedural mathematics.

This course fulfills a Mathematics (Algebra I) credit.

Instructor: Mary Chrestenson-Becker

Students will be introduced to the study of biology via a case study in Botany. In addition to learning basic, over-arching concepts covered in most high school level biology courses (the anatomy of a cell, issues of taxonomy, etc.), students will do focused work on the life of plants, examining how they obtain nutrients, defend themselves, participate in a larger ecosystem, and grow. There will be a lab portion of this course which will include gardening with an eye to how gardens interact with the local ecosystem.

This course fulfills a Biological Sciences credit and fulfills a Lab Science credit.
Students may complete a Quantitative Methods tutorial through this course.

Instructor: Melissa Amoabeng

As one of the world’s major religions, Buddhism has inspired a variety of forms of literary expression over the course of four to five thousand years. Students will read widely across this literature, including selections from the earliest known collection of women’s literature (the Therigatha), sutras (sermons of the Buddha) and their commentaries, and jataka tales. In addition to classical Buddhist literature, this course will devote half its time to modern works of Buddhist fiction, including novels, poetry, and film.

This course fulfills a World Literature or Humanities Elective credit.
Students may complete an Academic Writing tutorial through this course.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

Half of understanding the world in a quantitative fashion is working with formal logic and proof. In this course, students will learn basic logical relationships between truth statements, learning to recognize contingency and logical dependence and different ways to prove a statement. These skills will be applied to formal logic proofs using symbolic logic as well as Euclidean geometric proofs.

This course fulfills a Mathematics (Conceptual) credit and, with additional work, a Mathematics (Geometry) credit.

Instructor: Mary Chrestenson-Becker

Students will do an in-depth study of English women’s literature, beginning with early authors like Aphra Behn, proceeding through the writing of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, through Virginia Wolf, and into the contemporary period. Special attention will be paid to unearthing the vibrant and thriving tradition of women’s writings that is often given short shrift in a standard study of English literature.

This course fulfills an English Literature credit.
Students may complete an Academic Writing tutorial through this course.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

Consisting of two main parts, students who take this course will pick a major revolution or period of political change in European History to study and report on. Students may look at the French Revolution, the English Civil War, the Swabian Uprising, or any number of other possibilities. In addition to developing their own independent historical reports, the class will collectively study the Russian Revolution of 1917. This shared case study will provide students with a common ground and a shared language with which to analyze and understand revolutionary movements in general.

This course fulfills a European History credit and, with additional work, a Civics or Economics credit.
Students may complete a Library Research tutorial through this course.
If students choose to pursue an Economics credit they may also complete a Quantitative Methods tutorial.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

The courses provide students with opportunities to develop four key language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) simultaneously, with an emphasis on basic conversational skills in common, real life contexts. Through varied classroom activities and regular at-home practice, students learn basic elements of vocabulary and grammar, including simple verb tenses. Through weekly “conversation labs,” students at different levels interact with one another, with more advanced students helping novices by engaging them in conversation for a modestly “immersive” experience. Throughout the courses, students are introduced to the geography and culture(s) of the Spanish-speaking world, as well as the diversity of Spanish-language speakers right here at home. They are prepared for and encouraged to seek out opportunities to practice Spanish outside of class settings.

This course fulfills a Second Language Requirement for students who are not already fluent in Spanish.

Instructor: Kyle McQuillan

Enrichment Courses

Making Friends With Yourself (MFY) is an empirically-supported program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion in teens. MFY teaches core principles and practices that enable teens to respond to the challenges of these critical years with kindness and self-compassion. In this course, teens engage in developmentally appropriate activities and carefully crafted practices and meditations, which provide them with the opportunity to learn how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life with greater ease. Backed by research, findings indicate increases in emotional well-being and greater resilience after taking the course. Following in the footsteps of the adult Mindful Self Compassion program, Making Friends with Yourself is rooted in the three key components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity and mindful, balanced awareness. These elements serve to open the hearts of teens to their own suffering, so they can learn to give themselves what they truly need, recognize that they are not alone in their suffering, and encourage an open-minded acceptance of the struggle they are facing. This curriculum was adapted from the adult Mindful Self-Compassion created by Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, and has been endorsed by the founders. For more information, see http://www.getminded.com/.

This course fulfills a Health or Elective credit.

Spring Semester

Core Courses

Often Americans confront Buddhism in a simplified form, pared down to what missionaries to the United States and their disciples have thought of as the bare essentials. This course will examine the history of Buddhism in its staggering diversity, across a number of movements. We will address the role of meditation in different kinds of Buddhist communities, theories of enlightenment and liberation, the role of deities and the nature of an afterlife in Buddhism. These core questions will provide a center from which to see various inflections on Buddhism across history, from the Empire of Ashoka, to the Japanese Empire in the Second World War, to the internationalization of Buddhism out of Burma and Japan.

This course fulfills a World History or Humanities Elective credit.
Students may complete a Library Research tutorial through this course.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

Students will be introduced to the study of chemistry via a case study in Environmental Chemistry. In addition to learning basic, over-arching concepts covered in most high school level chemistry courses (the composition of an atom, what molecules are and how they form, the periodic table, etc.), students will do focused work in environmental chemistry addressing the quality of water. Students will learn to measure pH and the presence or absence of various chemical compounds, as well as how these compounds affect what the water can be used for.

This course fulfills a Chemical Sciences credit and fulfills a Lab Science credit.
Students may complete a Quantitative Methods tutorial through this course.

Instructor: TBA

When we think of health, and particularly what will be taught in a health class, we usually think about a list of guidelines for daily living, like “don’t smoke, wear a seatbelt, eat a balanced diet, get 8 hours of sleep a night, exercise daily, etc.” While important, following these guidelines does not necessarily guarantee healthy outcomes, nor is following these guidelines possible for all members of our communities. In this course, students will gain a more comprehensive understanding of how opportunities for positive health are influenced by factors operating at multiple levels, including individual, family, school and community, and policy and environmental levels. Students will wrestle with the practical, ethical, political and economic benefits and challenges of using different kinds of strategies to support or improve population health. In the second half of the course, students will work individually or in groups to apply a population health lens to a specific health topic of interest to adolescents in Durham in order to illuminate some of its causes and possible areas for intervention.

This course fulfills a Health requirement or an elective credit.

Instructor: Susan Haws

Western philosophy as it is commonly described is vast and no comprehensive account may be given, so rather than acquaint students in a superficial manner with every philosophical question that has been asked, students will pursue a study of two key questions over the history of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the contemporary world. Together we will look at the questions of aesthetics and philosophical anthropology: “what is beauty?” and “what does it mean to be human?” We will read canonical philosophers such as Plato, Neitzsche, and Kant; less studied philosophers such as Baumgarten and Engels; and contemporary philosophers like Spivak, Moten, and Haraway. In addition to our shared selective reading, students will pick one philosophical text to read slowly and in full and then report on it.

This course fulfills a European Literature credit or Humanities Elective credit.
Students may complete an Academic Writing tutorial through this course.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

The practical application of math and logic, programming is becoming a basic and omnipresent skill. This course will give students a basic introduction to Object Oriented Programming. Students will learn about variables, constants, functions, case statements, and various kinds of loops, including recursion. In addition, they will begin to learn best practices for formatting and commenting their code and debugging. All students will be required to prepare a final project that demonstrates their understanding of the core concepts they have learned.

This course fulfills a Mathematics (Applied) credit and, with additional work, a Mathematics (Algebra I) credit.
Students may complete a Quantitative Methods tutorial through this course.

Instructor: TBA

Consisting of two main parts, students who take this course will pick a major revolution or period of political change in the History of the Americas to study and report on. Students may look at the Haitan Revolution, the rise and fall of Marxism in Chile under Allende, the American Revolution, or any number of other possibilities. In addition to developing their own independent historical reports, the class will collectively study the Cuban Revolution of 1953. This shared case study will provide students with a common ground and a shared language with which to analyze and understand revolutionary movements in general.

This course fulfills an American History credit and, with additional work, a Civics or Economics credit.
Students may complete a Library Research tutorial through this course.
If students choose to pursue an Economics credit they may also complete a Quantitative Methods tutorial.

Instructor: Christopher Luna

This course serves as an introduction to Trigonometry from a practical mathematics standpoint and is focused on solving explicitly stated mathematical problems that have (potentially many) clear procedural solutions. In addition to learning the basics of trigonometry, students will learn common shortcuts and important examples that they are likely to encounter over and over again in testing settings.

This course fulfills a Mathematics (Trigonometry) credit.

Instructor: TBA

The courses provide students with opportunities to develop four key language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) simultaneously, with an emphasis on basic conversational skills in common, real life contexts. Through varied classroom activities and regular at-home practice, students learn basic elements of vocabulary and grammar, including simple verb tenses. Through weekly “conversation labs,” students at different levels interact with one another, with more advanced students helping novices by engaging them in conversation for a modestly “immersive” experience. Throughout the courses, students are introduced to the geography and culture(s) of the Spanish-speaking world, as well as the diversity of Spanish-language speakers right here at home. They are prepared for and encouraged to seek out opportunities to practice Spanish outside of class settings.

This course fulfills a Second Language Requirement for students who are not already fluent in Spanish.

Instructor: Kyle McQuillan