Woods and van Benthuysen Co-Teach Latin’s Most Unique Elective

MacKenzie Guynn As we begin to think about course registration for next year, it is easy to fall into a monotonous routine, especially when picking core subjects. At some point, English classes seem to meld together, just as math classes do. What can be so different between each class? In any English class, you’ll read books and then write about them. Or, will you? While that may be true about the English classes you have taken up to this point, there are also classes that push you past your predisposed thoughts about English. One of these classes is the senior elective, The Literature of Nihilism. For those who don’t know, Nihilism, according to Mr. Woods, is a type of philosophy. “It deals with the worldview that we cannot derive meaning from objective truths because there are no objective truths upon which to fall back,” said Woods. Woods, along with math teacher Mr. van Benthuysen, co-teaches the senior elective. That sentence alone is one reason why the class is so different—it is co-taught by a math teacher. In order to understand why this is the case, you must first look at the course overview. “The point of the class is to provide students with a mix of formal and informal logic as an introduction to philosophical inquiry,” Woods said. “To reach this goal, students must first learn to evaluate the validity and soundness of arguments by getting a primer in formal symbolic logic.” This is where Mr. van Benthuysen comes in. The first unit is taught by van Benthuysen in order to ensure that the students understand logic. “This is important later when students tease out and construct complex positions about the philosophical tradition of nihilism through reading texts by philosophers and authors,” said Woods. The Literature of Nihilism is an English class that focuses on something deeper than a region of the world or a specific author. Don’t get me wrong, those English classes are amazing and important as well, but they can get repetitive at times. For upcoming seniors, this could be your shot to break the cycle and learn about something that interests you, such as philosophy, within the context of an English class. ]]>