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Scranton Pub Photo ARoy Scranton‘s essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Boston Review, Bookforum, Contemporary Literature, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He served in the US Army from 2002 to 2006, and spent fourteen months in Iraq. He earned an MA at the New School for Social Research, and is currently working on a PhD in English at Princeton. He is working on two books at the moment: The Lost War: World War II in American Literature, 1945-1975, a work of literary and historical criticism investigating the dominance of traumatic narratives in the canonical literature of World War II; and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, a philosophical essay on the meaning of human life in the midst of global climate crisis.

Technology to Help Us Save Our Oceans

ShahSelbe We have made great strides in establishing marine reserves to allow the health of our oceans to rebound. However, these reserves risk being ineffective without smarter ways to protect them. The methods currently used tend to be expensive and rely almost entirely on the use of military resources (which tends to put it at a low priority). Shah Selbe is an engineer and National Geographic Explorer who works in identifying innovative approaches and technologies that can help. This includes the development of hardware (low-cost conservation drones, acoustic sensors, etc.) and data management solutions (smartphone apps, online databases, satellite imagery, etc.). He created MPA Guardian, a website and smartphone app to allow crowdsourced protection of California’s marine protected area network. He is now working through a grant from National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions to create low-cost drones to monitor Marine Protected Areas. Join Selbe to hear about some of the most promising technologies and his work in the Caribbean on the Waitt Institute’s Barbuda Blue Halo initiative.

 
Wednesday, April 2, 7 PM. We will leave WA at 4 PM. Eat at Legal Sea Foods at Rowes Wharf before attending the lecture.

Back-up, Book

MurnaneHistoryForFuturePresidents

 

http://blog.dinosaurdiscs.com/post/54340976113/folk-music-in-america

http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sc/web/full-episodes/titles/23743/play-on-john-a-life-in-music#

Roy Scranton/Assembly Speaker and Roundtable Host

April 15, 2014

photo 1Roy Scranton‘s essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Boston Review, Bookforum, Contemporary Literature, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He served in the US Army from 2002 to 2006, and spent fourteen months in Iraq. He earned an MA at the New School for Social Research, and is currently working on a PhD in English at Princeton. He is photo 2working on two books at the moment: The Lost War: World War II in American Literature, 1945-1975, a work of literary and historical criticism investigating the dominance of traumatic narratives in the canonical literature of World War II; and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, a philosophical essay on the meaning of human life in the midst of global climate crisis.

Ron Cino

Head of School, Worcester Academy

Tuesday, 3 December 2013. 7-8 PM in Warner Theater

misc_85205Worcester Academy has been engaged in an ambitious capital campaign, OnWArd: The Campaign For Worcester Academy, with a goal of raising $50 million to strengthen facilities and programs directly benefiting students. With the support of our parents, alumni, and other friends of the school, we have raised an impressive $34 million, which has been used to fund the highly successful renovation of Kingsley Labs, the acquisition of the South Campus and subsequent construction of Morse Field, and the growth of our endowment.  We are entering the Capstone Phase of OnWArd with a roughly $20 million multi-building facilities improvement plan.  With construction focused over two summers, the renovation of Walker Hall, one of our historic and most prominent buildings, is the centerpiece of this plan; Walker will emerge as a first-rate center for the humanities that will serve Worcester Academy well for generations to come. Head of School Ronald M. Cino will discuss the challenge of balancing the preservation of our historical buildings with the Academy’s efforts to support sustainability and the ongoing effort to create a greener world. Mr. Cino will also discuss the process the Academy went through to obtain LEED certification Silver for this new project.

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How to Save the Oceans and Feed the World

Andrew Sharpless, CEO, Oceana and author, The Perfect Protein

Thursday, November 7

New England Aquarium Lecture Series, Boston

Andyapprovedheadshot51013With Earth’s human population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050—adding the equivalent of two Chinas to current numbers—we need wild fish more than ever to feed us (especially the nearly 1 billion of the world’s poorest people who rely on seafood as their main source of animal protein). The bad news is that wild fish populations are in decline because of overfishing, destruction of habitat and bycatch. We are grinding up small fish such as anchovies, mackerel and sardines into feed for salmon and other farmed animals, even though these overlooked fish are delicious and healthy and could feed millions inexpensively. The good news, as Andrew Sharpless explains, is that if just 25 coastal nations of the world—including the United States—take three steps to better manage their wild seafood supply, our oceans will not only become more biodiverse, they will be far more abundant and capable of feeding hundreds of millions more people every day at a sustainable rate. Sharpless’s message is clear. We can save the oceans and feed the world.

Click here for more on the Aquarium series.

We will charter a bus leaving Worcester Academy at 4 PM

Dinner at Legal Sea Foods in Boston/Lecture is at 7 PM.

Email john.murnane@worcesteracademy.org to reserve your spot.

Click here for an article about the threats to our oceans.

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Dr. Jeff Pappas

Director of The New Mexico Historical Preservation Division

Monday, 21 October 2013. 7-8 PM in Warner Theater

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51986dec9a5ae.preview-300Dr. Pappas is a Worcester native and a former member of the Worcester Academy faculty. He received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University, taught at Colorado State University and served in the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office after leaving Worcester Academy. Dr. Pappas has worked for over 20 years in the National Park Service, primarily at Yosemite National Park. As the Director of The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, Pappas helps identify and protect New Mexico’s cultural resources, including its archaeological sites, architectural and engineering achievements, cultural landscapes and diverse heritage. Pappas oversees efforts to help communities identify, evaluate, preserve, and revitalize their historic, archaeological, and cultural resources.

Robert D. Austin and  Carl Stormer of the Harvard Business School published “Miles Davis: Kind of Blue” in 2008. The abstract reads:
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[The study] examines how successful companies can “jump to the next S-curve” through an analogy to the life’s work of Miles Davis, especially his paradigm-shattering Kind of Blue album in 1959. Students consider how and why Davis, who had already proven he was tops in his field, created a new disruptive innovation in the field of jazz, in the process creating the most commercially successful jazz album of all time. The case also delves deeply into the creative process, and Davis’s creative leadership and ability to cultivate talent (such as that of saxophonist John Coltrane)-many of the great jazz musicians of the 20th century came out of the informal “Miles Davis University.”
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In a review for Harvard Business School’s “Working Knowledge,” an on-line journal, Martha Legace bulleted the key points:
  • With Kind of Blue, Miles Davis radically detached from his comfortable but fairly safe career to craft a more interesting future.
  • Simplicity was essential to the success of Kind of Blue. Simplicity empowered and freed Davis’s players to improvise and create without requiring them to put their technical mastery on show.
  • As a manager of musicians, Davis sometimes provoked. Yet during his lifetime many benefited from their stint at “Miles University.”
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Animated music can help illustrate the shift to a more simplistic style and Davis’s break with the past–points one and two above.  Compare “So What,” the most famous song on the Kind of Blue album, with Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.”
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You probably notice some big differences. The first piece (“So What”) is much simpler than the second (“Confirmation”). The first piece involved fewer notes and a slower tempo. The horns played two notes over and over. Fewer and simpler chord progressions mark the real breakthrough, however.

Chords are written as letters above the notes, such a C, for a C-major chord. Chords provide the harmony or harmonic structure. The Charlie Parker song had constant chord changes, which forced Parker–the alto saxophonist–to play different notes to match-up with the chords. Parker was a lightening-fast horn player; as the leading figure in the older, Be Bop jazz style, he could more than keep up with so many chord changes. Miles slowed it down and simplified–this led to different sounding solos by the musicians in his band. By simplifying, soloists like tenor saxophone great John Coltrane could try out new ideas while soloing over the simplified chord patterns and structures found throughout the Kind of Blue album. Miles, Coltrane and the other players on the Kind of Blue recording session inspired decades of emulation and musical exploration. It’s still one of the top-selling jazz recordings (more than 50 years after it was released).

Can these same principles be applied to education? If the chords are seen as units of instruction or assessments (tests, papers, projects, etc.) is it a case of “less is more”? Would fewer shifts from assignment to assignment allow for better quality work on the part of students? Deeper? Original? Would simplified structure (basic guidelines, but with room for individual expression–like the soloists in Miles Davis’s band) allow for a more innovative educational process and/or atmosphere? Granted, teaching and Learning are not the same as playing in a jazz band. But there does seem to be much that educators can learn from Miles Davis and the shift he made in the early-1960s toward a new, simpler innovative style of jazz.

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