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Sharanya Ananth: Exporing philosophy and perspectives at Governor’s School

Governor’s School is most widely known for Area 1 classes where each student writes essays and/or auditions to enter at the local and state level. These subject areas are either academic or arts. Students may enter in English, Mathematics, Social Science, Natural Science, French at East, and Spanish at West; or one of the arts: Dance, Choral Music, Instrumental Music, Visual Art, and Theater.

These Area I classes are fascinating, and students report being challenged in their respective areas, as well as gaining a new or reinforced passion for learning. However, I find that our Area 2 and 3 classes are some of the most stimulating and illuminating academic and personal discussions I have ever had in my schooling.

Area 2 is philosophy class, essentially (and now I can’t use that word without thinking of Greek philosophers and essentialism vs. existentialism).

We began with a discussion of Epistemology- the study of knowledge. Thinking about how we know we know something and if knowledge is even possible at all was certainly a confusing starting point in the first few days of Governor’s School for me, but such discussions, including examples of Agrippa’s Dilemma, the film Run, Lola, Run, the Nosedive episode of the television show Black Mirror, and Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s Telephone music video, brought about a view that dared to never be comprehensive, and that was just great, as it provided for scintillating conversation.

We continued on with Metaphysics, attempting to define such abstract concepts as love and time, resulting in one of my favorite classes of all time to date: is time travel possible in the near future or at all?

My bio on this blog lists one of my passions as modern physics, and that was demonstrated at my extreme enjoyment of this class, where we discussed both the philosophy and theoretical physics aspects of time and its travel.

Moving on to religion, we considered questions of a more broad nature than those concerning individual religions. Armed with the tragic yet comedic yet thought-provoking documentary, Grizzly Man, we discussed the possibility of friendship between humans and nonhuman animals and the ethical parameters of such relationships.

We are about to embark on a discussion of aesthetics, having just watched the critically acclaimed film, Daughters of the Dust, and Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade, a showing that brought joy to the faces of students across campus and created quite a few new Beyonce fans.

Area 3 class is something that remains yet undefined. I hesitate to label it as philosophical group therapy, but that’s the best description I have thus far.

One of the first things we did in Area 3, after getting to know other students in our classes, was watch a required showing of Obedience and Remember My Lai, two documentaries that remain with me as some of the most impactful material I have ever consumed.

The next day in class, we reviewed the film through a discussion about the true meaning of freedom, the American Dream, American imperialism, and dehumanization of the “other.” We’ve used playing cards to conduct an auction of human values, determining what it is that we each individually value in our lives and personal relationships.

In some classes we do “Hot Seat,” an activity in which a student sits in the center of the circle and is asked any question by other students in the class or the instructor. One interesting discussion ensued in the wake of a student being asked “If you could eliminate any one form of prejudice in the world, which would it be?”

We discussed socioeconomic discrimination, and how that tied into racism and other political issues of the modern era. For the second half of Governor’s School, we will be making creativity projects, an activity in which students may choose any form of creative expression, such as poetry, visual art, performance, construction, or coding, to communicate their message.

We recently returned from our mid-session break, and my absence from Governor’s School has given me a new perspective on the coming weeks. With only two and a half weeks remaining, I am even more compelled to meet as many new people as I can and branch out even further.

One of my hall TACs (Teacher Assistant/Counselor) is an alum of Governor’s School West, and recalled her last weeks at GSW, saying that this is the time when it really sinks in for students that this experience will inevitably come to an end and we may never see any of these peers again.

I have similar feelings right now, as I am coming to realize that some of the close friendships I have made are just as important to me as those I have maintained for months and years. I am already beginning to see the immense value Governor’s School will hold in my heart long after it is over, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I am excited to continue on with this amazing experience for two more weeks.

Sharanya Ananth

Sharanya Ananth is a rising senior at the Early College at Guilford in Greensboro, North Carolina. She attends Governor’s School for English, specifically in the area of poetry, but is also interested in studying politics, modern physics, vocal music, and Spanish. She is passionate about a number of social issues and inspiring music and STEM education for youth in North Carolina.