By Andrew V Pontbriand
The students over at Oxford High School in Oxford, MA. are probably not familiar with the Common Core curriculum. I mean, let’s face it, when you were forced into compulsory education did you really care THAT much about the curriculum?
However, when I was speaking with a family friend who is a junior attending the high school, she pointed out something to me that she knew I would find interesting. A class called “Conspiracy Theories”.
“The class is varied in the topics but one thing we talked about was the moon landing being a hoax, we had to write a paper explaining why it was, or wasn’t a hoax”. She also stated that the class does mention ‘The Illuminati’, but “most of the kids only relate it to pop culture”, and that the class seems to focus on it in that context. She said, “like Jay-Z and Rihanna being members of the Illuminati.”
I contacted Oxford High School to see if I could track down the teacher for this class. The teacher, Aimee Russo, did not e-mail me back to answer any questions.
However, this is a course description on the High School’s Web Portal:
This course will explore conspiracy theories throughout history. We will explore subjects from aliens to music and pop culture to 9/11. They will challenge you be (sic) constantly questioning the truth. You will hear many sides to many stories and have to discover for yourself what you believe really happened. You will be researching, reading, and writing about conspiracy theories. You will also partake in many class discussions and complete projects that exercise your creativity, thinking skills, presentation skills, and collaboration skills.
The class, “explores” such “theories” as, 9/11, AIDS, Paul McCartney, Elvis, and cancer conspiracies. However, I was told specifically by a student that the class goes deeper than that.
Since Ms. Russo was unable to respond, I contacted Matthew Welsh, a history teacher at the High School. I asked him a few questions to get his take on the class.
Mr. Welsh, stated that the class is an elective, and denied to comment specifically if this was now part of Common Core.
The name of the course is “Conspiracy Theories” and it is an elective open to juniors and seniors. It seems that the point of the course is to examine the history/reasons why the conspiracy’s (sic) exist and the evidence on the sides of each debate. They cover various types of conspiracy’s, the one’s that I know of center around pop-culture like “Paul is Dead” and the “27 Club” and they do some on pharmaceutical vs holistic medicine.
I do not know if they go into any of the cryptid’s, issues on the Men in Black, JFK assassination or the hoax moon landing.
Oxford High School is not the only School around that is exploring these topics, and it isn’t just limited to High School.
Brandeis University, located in Waltham, Massachusetts; also offers a course entitled “Conspiracy Theories.”
The course is taught by Prof. Jerry Cohen, who received his M.A. from Yale, and his B.A. from Rutgers University.
The course description reads:
Considers the “paranoid style” in America’s political and popular culture and in recent American literature. Topics include allegations of “conspiracy” in connection with the Sacco and Vanzetti, Hiss, and Rosenberg cases; antisemitism and anti-Catholicism; and Watergate and Irangate. Usually offered every second year. – Mr. Cohen.
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