As a child, well before Google (and even before Netscape—remember that?), I would go straight from the dinner table to our family encyclopedia. My head was filled with questions. Some came from school assignments (“What was the historical context of Jane Eyre?”) and some from our dinner table (“why do Jews eat brisket?”). At school, my teachers’ brilliant questions in class would prompt exciting debates and discussions; our questions back to them earned more praise than our answers. Questions—and the resources that allowed me to answer them and then ask more—led me to a life of asking and answering as an educator.

To be a student in MSON is to encounter incredible questions, search for answers, and ask some more. Here are just a few of the questions taken from course descriptions in our
2021-22 Course Catalog:
    • How do great political leaders instill a desire in the public to follow them?
    • How and why is it that a pop culture icon like Beyoncé reignited the flame of feminism in 2014?
    • What lessons from the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be important for those living in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
    • How do you know that you are not in the Matrix?
    • Why are most artificial intelligence algorithms biased?
    • Is access to affordable housing a human right?
    • Does our national fixation with hero detectives, warrior cops, and batmen suggest something more complex at work?
    • Are you willing to challenge your own ideas and beliefs by learning how to listen and speak respectfully with others?
    • What aspects of American culture shape the experience of being a woman today?
I am thrilled with our new Catalog, which included 55 courses, roughly a 50% increase from the current catalog. We are including more high-level math courses, like Vector Calculus, more languages, including new courses in French and Latin, several courses that respond to the current moment in the US and make use of the geographical diversity of our students, and additional courses that allow students to explore, in depth, the variety of opinions, voices, and experiences of a broad range of people. 

Once again, I’m blown away by the quality of our instructors, who bring enormous subject-matter expertise, dedication to teaching, and excitement about continuing to evolve our special program. 

Please peruse our
Course Catalog and get a feel for our courses from the teachers themselves in their course videos.

What makes all of this work? The spirit of collaboration. We offer classes like these because we can find an expert teacher at one school to open up his or her class to students across the country. We provide transformative learning experiences for students (like the ones in our Student Spotlights) because we put students in class with peers they might never meet in person, who enrich the conversation in class, in Macroeconomics and Chemistry and Advanced French alike. I am grateful every year for the way our schools come together to offer such opportunities for students.

What else is happening at MSON?

1. This spring, in partnership with the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium, we have offered monthly Supercharge Saturday professional development events for faculty at our member schools—whether teaching online, hybrid, or in-person. Recent topics have included virtual escape rooms, engaging students in the hybrid format, and building community in the second semester. Here are some of the resources from this collaboration:

2. MSON’s unique expertise in bringing students together in live, synchronous seminars from across the country to “talk across difference” has us working on some projects related to civic discourse. (This has been on our minds for some time, as I describe here.) If civics education matches your interest and experience and you’d like to be involved–whether or not you’re a part of MSON—please feel free to reach out to me directly by email. We aim to teach asking questions without judgment, interrogating our own ideas and beliefs, and understanding the perspectives of others.

Food for Thought

Some of my most interesting reads from the last few weeks:

Reflections on the Year

Teaching and Learning


On My Bedside Table

  1. Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
  3. East Lynne, Ellen Wood