The Autodidact Course Catalog
August 27, 2009 |  by Dale Keiger

School Zone: Educating America’s Children

Amy Wilson, instructor, School of Education

University education in the United States long has been a model for the world. But the American public system for schooling the 12 grades below college is a wreck, especially for minority and disadvantaged kids. This course will sample the ever-growing literature on what is wrong and what ought to be done.

Musicians on Music

Michael Hersch, composer and faculty member, Peabody Conservatory

Collected prose by artists more accustomed to wordless expression. Class readings will demonstrate that more great musicians are able writers than great writers are able musicians.

  • Composers on Music: Eight Centuries of Writings, edited by Josiah Fisk and Jeff Nichols. Expanded version of the notable 1956 anthology. More than 100 composers, from Hildegard von Bingen to Oliver Knussen, writing on their art.
  • Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations, edited by Bruno Monsaingeon and Stewart Spencer. Interviews with and excerpts from the notebooks of the great 20th-century pianist who once said of Vladimir Horowitz, “Such talent! And such a trivial mind.”
  • Orientations: Collected Writings, by Pierre Boulez. Essays by the contemporary composer, some with great titles. For example: “Aesthetics and the Fetishists” and “Putting the Phantoms to Flight.”

Einstein Just Shakes His Head: Readings in Quantum Physics

Adam Falk, physicist and dean of the Krieger School

Antiquarks, blackbody spectra, Higgs bosons, leptons, gravitational lensing, fermionic dimensions, zinos, winos—if you’re a quantum physicist, the universe is one weird place. Pretty weird for the rest of us, too. This course will make students conversant with some of the best far-out thinking on how everything fits together.

Next: The nature of corporations, the state of nursing, mistaken bankers and failed states.