40 Courses from 1973

Though much at Marin Academy has changed over the past 40 years, today’s course offerings look quite similar to those during the 1973-1974 school year.  The course titles and descriptions below were transcribed from MA’s 1973 viewbook.   


(1) English I – Introduction to Literature and Writing
First, an introduction of the student to different types of literature, i.e.: short story, novel, poetry, drama and essay.  Goal is to teach the student the skills necessary to read, enjoy and analyze critically these different types of literature.  Secondly, to acquire the skills necessary to write short compositions.  This writing would be expository in nature and geared toward developing a clear and correct form of writing expression.  Frequent writing assignments are supplemented by a study of short expository essays as an aid to understanding good writing skills.  In conjunction with this there is also a review of grammar and a vocabulary study program.

(2) English II – English and American Literature
The course offers a student a broad introduction to the authors, styles, periods and philosophy of the English language literature of Western civilization.  The purpose of the  literature study is to give the student an acquaintance with the “best that has been thought and said” in his native language.  Writing is frequent and geared toward further development of the skills learned in the 9th grade.  Students are expected to write longer compositions of a critical an analytical nature that have the qualities of correctness and clearness.  Vocabulary study continues.

(3) English III and IV – Electives
Whereas the 9th and 10th grade English courses are geared toward developing fundamental skills in English, the 11th and 12th grade levels aim at not only furthering these skills, but of offering students the opportunity for more intensive study in certain elective areas of English.  These areas, which would be covered in semester courses, would include such studies as Shakespearian Tragedies and Comedies, Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Modern Poetry, Renaissance Drama, Victorian Novel, etc.  All students will be required to select courses for a total of four semesters.  Each course would continue the development of critical and analytical skills in reading and writing, but at the same time allow students, with English Department recommendations, to study in areas of interest to them.


(4) French I
Designed for students with no previous knowledge and those who have not completed a year of academic high school French.  The course stresses equally the oral and written word, with ample opportunity for repetition in order to develop a good accent.  Grammar study and vocabulary building are fundamental.  French culture, i.e.: history, music, art, etc., is learned with the aid of films, slides, records, maps, and magazines.

(5) French II
For those who have successfully completed French I or its equivalent.  French II begins with a review of French I and continues to stress grammar development.  All major verb tenses are learned.  Attention is given to improving the spontaneity of the oral response.  The reading of simple passages and the writing of original compositions help reinforce the learned grammar.  Attentions is also given to French culture as in the French I course.

(6) French III
For students who have successfully completed two years of high school French or the equivalent.  French III is conducted entirely in French and deals primarily with the reading and oral and written interpretation of classic French texts in novel, play, and poetic form.  Some authors read are Sartre, Gide, Camus, and Moliere.  Concurrent with the literature is a grammar review of the first two years of French with an emphasis of all verb tenses and vocabulary development.

(7) French IV
Although this course includes a review of French grammar, its main objectives are: (1) the development of vocabulary (2) creative writing with an emphasis on writing poetry in French  (3) learning about France and the French culture (4) the study in depth of various authors and the analysis of their works, ideas, and philosophy.  (Jacques Prevert, Paul Elvard, Alphonse Daudet, Albert Camus, Jean Cocteau, etc.)  These studies are made in French.

(8) Spanish I
Introductory course to the student of the language.  Emphasis on oral communications, with the use of the language laboratory as an aid in the development of the listening s and speaking skills,  Course entails study of basic grammar and vocabulary development, with increasing emphasis on reading and writing during the second semester.

(9) Spanish II
Continued and more intensive study of Spanish grammar and vocabulary.  Development of conversational skills and understanding of Hispanic culture through readings of a contemporary nature.  Continued use of the language lab.

(10) Spanish III
Advanced grammar, and readings designed to stimulate thought and discussion about Hispanic vs. American ideas, problems, customs, etc.  Introduction to Hispanic literature, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries.

(11) Spanish IV
Introduces advanced students of Spanish to college level literature, analysis, composition writing and oral communication.  A two part course: (1) A general study of older Medieval and Renaissance selections will offer an insight into the culture, the growth of traditions and values, and the spirit and special complex personality of Spain.  (2) Emphasis on the more challenging works of the contemporary authors of Spain and Latin America.  Conversation skills through the use of Spanish in all class activities.


(12) American Studies
This course concentrates on the men, ideas, and institutions which have influenced life in the United States today.  The course examines both the theoretical and actual workings of our political system.  It uses works of history, literature and the arts.  A course usually taken in the junior year, it satisfies the California State requirement in American History for high school graduation.

(13) Western Civilization
The origins of western culture from the beginnings of through the Middle Ages with stress on Greece, Rome, and the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  A look at western man’s cultural heritage from many points of view: history, art, literature, myths, etc.  One semester.

(14) Modern European History
The Renaissance through the present.  The continuing development of western society and culture.  Stress on the forces shaping European Civilization today and Europe’s interaction with the rest of the world.  One semester.

(15) African History
A survey of the peoples of Africa and the forces which shaped their history.  from the origins of man, though the ancient empires, the slave-trade and colonization, to independence and the present.  African art, culture and social relations are stressed, as well as politics and geography.  One semester.

(16) Asian Studies
A survey of the history and culture of India, China and Japan.  Emphasis on an understanding of the “world views” of these people though their literature, art, history and religion.  Extensive use of Bay area resources (museums, galleries, Zen center, Chinatown, etc.) Thoughts and feelings will be examined and discussed rather than dates or specialized statistics.  One semester.

(17) Latin American Studies
From Pre-Columbian civilization (Inca, Aztec, Maya, Toltec) to the present.  Stress on the causes and outcomes of modern revolutions, such as those in Mexico and Cuba.  Study of the literature and art forms for deeper understanding of the people.  One semester.

(18) Physical and Cultural Anthropology
Study of early man – physiological evolution, early practical evolution (implements, fire, etc.) in various areas of the globe.  Beginnings of culture and its ramifications: speech religion, totemism, travel.  How life became more complicated as the species did the same.  Case studies include Navajo Indians, Eskimos, and others.  One semester.

(19) Social Anthropology
Emphasis on social phenomena in the United States; study of the cities (over-crowding, cultural and psychic effects); crime (types, moral issues); environmental crises and what can be done; prejudice and discrimination (types, causes, cultural effects).  One semester.


(20) Algebra I
This course is a study of the basic laws and rules of algebra aimed at acquiring skills in problem solving and basic mathematical axioms.  Students learn to develop the rational number system, solutions of linear and quadratic equations, systems of equations, and graphing of functions.

(21) Geometry
Algebra I required.  A study of the theorems and problems of Euclidean geometry.  Non-Euclidean geometry and construction are also introduced.

(22) Calculus
Intensive full-year study of college level calculus of functions of a single variable.  Primary emphasis is placed on an intuitive development of the theory and the application of the concepts to practical problems.  Students are expected to demonstrate competence with purely theoretical problems as well as applied problems.  Differential and integral calculus are studied simultaneously.

(23) Computer Science (1 Semester – ½ credit)
Required of all students having a heavy concentration in mathematics, but also open to other students.  The course teaches the use of the computer for the mathematical computation and also the skills necessary to program the computer for specialized use.


(24) Introduction to Physical Science
Provides a beginning knowledge of physical science and offers insight into the means by which scientific knowledge is obtained.  Students participate both in the directed laboratory exercises and experimentation, as well as guided reasoning in science method.  The course is especially designed for those students who will continue their studies in chemistry, physics, and biology, but may also be taken by students who wish no further courses in science.

(25) Biology
The BSCS Blue version program is used.  The course offers an intense and highly investigative approach to biology.  It stives by means of the inquiry method to five the student an understanding of such things as life processes, single cell and multicelluar organisms, genetic systems, skeletal and muscular systems, and other related topics.  Although generally a course for the 10th grades, some academically strong 9th graders may be permitted to enroll in this course.

(26) Chemistry
Lab course geared towards an understanding of chemical science through investigative study.  Emphasis on activities of the experimentation and observation as the basis for all knowledge of chemistry or any other physical science.  The unifying principles of the subject are developed in a logical way with laboratory work providing a basis for this development.  ChemStudy program is used.

(27) Physics
This course is an exploration of the intricacies and simplicities involved in our understanding of the physical laws of the universe.  Topics include motion, force and Newton’s Laws; waves and the nature of light; energy, electricity, and the nuclear structure of matter.  Computer science is also studied.  Algebra II is a prerequisite.


(28) Studio Art I
A structured approach to the fundamentals of drawing, spatial relations, color theory, and three dimensional form.  Included are the areas of graphics, ceramics, welding, and painting.  Outside work and independent projects are required.  Students work in a variety of media.

(29) Drawing & Painting (1-6 Semesters – 1 credit)
A studio course for the continuing art student who wishes to concentrate in the area of drawing and painting.  Emphasis is placed on the development of imagery, the techniques of acrylic painting, and all types of drawing.

(30) Ceramics & Sculpture (1-6 Semesters – 1 credit)
A studio course for the continuing art student who wishes to concentrate on the skills and processes involved in clay.  All the methods from hand-built work through castings and weldings are explored.

(31) Contemporary Dance
Contemporary Dance is a time-space art form that uses movement as a medium of expression.  It is the result of internal ordering of movement by a choreographer-dancer.  The movement is created in response to the re-experiencing of emotional values which are thus given a new existence.  The result is the communication of an idea, mood, feeling, state, and/or situation.

(32) Introduction to the Theater
An introductory survey course dealing with all phases of theater life, including various aspects of acting, mime and movement, technical skills, costuming, and make-up.

(33) Advanced Acting
An in-depth study and exercise in the various acting skills.  The course also provides a genre survey of plays, and several plays are produced during the year.

(34) Mime (1 semester – ½ credit)
A course which explores basic mime techniques.  This is done through physical exercises, improvisation, theatre games, and eventual performance in white-face and stylized costume.


(35) Fundamentals of Music
Beginning course in fundamentals for students who wish to know more about music.  Styles of music, their appreciation and analysis, are presented, as well as practical application in that the class will compose music and present it.

(36) Chorus
This is a performing group that presents several concerts yearly.  Members of the chorus learn fundamentals of singing and are exposed to various types of vocal music from medieval to modern.

(37) Instrumental
Programs are available in the beginning band, studies in sightreading, and ensemble presentation as there is demand.  Also, arrangements can be made for lessons in piano, organ, guitar, and other instruments.

(38) Photography (1 semester – ½ credit)
Open to all students to develop the skills of camera use and darkroom techniques.  students work with 35mm cameras, use the school;s darkroom and have their work published in the school literary magazine and yearbook.

(39) Film (1 semester – ½ credit)
A course which includes the viewing of various films in order to understand a sense of film history and various styles.  It also includes the practical experience of making your own film.

(40) Public Speaking (1 semester – ½ credit)
A course which explores the role of the public speaker through practical experience.  this involves training in the role of discussion leader, parliamentary procedure, debate, preparation of subject matter for all occasions, and extemporaneous speaking.

The 2012-2013 school year marks 40 years of education at Marin Academy.  Throughout the year we will be commemorating this anniversary with on-campus events for students, special publications (including this on-going series of “lists of 40”), and a community celebration at Bimbo’s in San Francisco on April 20 (Save the date!).

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