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The School of Athens


The School of Athens is a cross-curricular project designed by me in 1994, when I was technology curriculum coordinator at Campbell Hall School. The idea behind it was to take a topic that was currently discussed in the news (such as Proposition 187), look at its basic components, and have different classes create projects for any of those topics, each in their respective areas. For example: The Government class would focus on a project about the democratic roots of propositions in California and specifically proposition 187, a social studies class would create a project about the history of immigration in the United States, an ancient history class can research Ancient Greek Direct Democracy, and a math class can focus on the Math of Elections as reflected in different types of Voting that exist. This was the base for a prototype that I created using HyperCard.

The project consists of several stacks, each covering a different aspect of Democracy. In one stack I analyze Athenian Democracy, in the other Democracy today, and in the last one I try to predict the future of Democracy. All discussion is tied to diverse manifestations of democracy in our society (elections, propositions, grass root movements, etc.). Ancient Democracy looks at famous scholar’s writings about Democracy, (Aristotle and Plato) and tries to compare its actual practice in society at different periods of time. Contemporary Democracy looks at American Democracy and its reflection upon Leadership, Citizenship, and Voting. While Democracy, Leadership, and Citizenship are part of a government and social studies analysis, voting is analyzed via its mathematical aspect. An entire stack is devoted to the Math of Voting. The Stack’s title is challenging a debate as it states: “Vetoing the Way America Votes”, and covering the problems in our current voting system, followed by an analysis about Plurality, Runoff, Approval, and Cumulative Voting. The investigation includes a simulation comparing voting to the choice one makes when selecting a movie to watch, thus demonstrating vividly the advantages and flaws of each system.

This project was created with HyperCard using it’s built in graphics, text, media (sound and movie), and Hypertalk programming tools. The project was never done by students. It was intended for teachers to provide them with a view of what can be done with technology. I envisioned classes developing these topics (each in their own field) and getting together to share information, learn from each other’s research, and conduct educated discussions as they relate to issues that are covered in the news.

This project was quite futuristic at the time and I still wish to do it with students and watch the outcome in reality. I believe that it could add tremendously to students’ awareness of what is happening around them and provide them with important tools to learn, understand, and analyze while comparing different entities to come up with an educated view of the world.

Click here to see a slide show of selective screen shots of The School of Athens