Your J-Term Questions Answered

UPDATE: The course catalog will be available Friday, October 3, and the registration forms will be distributed Wednesday, October 8.

Earthquake writers Si Affron and Owen Cheung sat down with the movers and shakers of January Term to answer your questions. Full information for the program, including a course catalog, will be available by early October. Until then, here are basic answers to the questions students have been asking.

1. What do you see as the biggest benefit of January Term?

“In a short period of time, we get to vastly expand the curriculum. In the middle of the year we have all these new electives, and in one swift moment, we’ll have this breadth of choice for students.” – Dana Weeks

“January Term helps us live our Quaker mission. We sometimes struggle with simplicity at GFS, but having an alternative schedule with longer periods and passing time and less homework is good for everyone’s brains, bodies, and souls. The school is blessed with faculty that have passions and even degrees in other fields we don’t always use.” – Chris Singler

2. How much do teachers anticipate students to learn?

“The point is to start an interest, it’s not four years of med school. The point is not the content. It’s experiential learning rather than content-driven.” – Alyson Solomon, who is teaching Intro to Medicine

“Students get the opportunity to both try new things and build on interests they already have. If students want to take five history courses because they know that is what they are most interested in, that’s fine, and if a student wants to try all new things, that’s fine too.” – Chris Singler

3. How does scheduling work for January Term?

The schedule is quite a bit different compared to the normal weekly schedule. With varied length classes, passing time, X Activity Block and trip days, January Term is a time for experimentation. Students can choose to take either five or six classes. There are one hour classes that meet three times a week, one and a half hour classes that meet twice a week, and three hour classes that meet once a week. Students who choose to take only five classes will have space for two or three independent learning periods. Fridays are set aside as a day for classes to have trips or school-wide activities. On Monday through Thursday, we have homeroom, lunch, assembly and Meeting for Worship as usual.  X block is set aside mainly for clubs to meet.


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4. What is a trip day?

“Fridays will be local trip days. Some of those trips will be tied to courses; for instance if you take playwriting, you would go see a play one Friday. If your courses don’t have trips, we will still have other non-curricular trips, such as community service trips, for you to go on. These are going to be great ways to enhance courses out of the classroom.” – Chris Singler

5. What is the advantage of having 9th, 10th, and 12th grades learning together?

“Sure, some classes need prerequisites, but seniors have much to learn from freshmen, and certainly freshmen and sophomores have much to learn from seniors. Plus, there’s also the community building. It will force conversation and build relationships. We do that right now with athletics, but for those who are not heavily involved in athletics, their window is narrowed.” – Dana Weeks

Most classes will be open to all students, although a few will have prerequisites.

6. When do we sign up?  

Students will be given course catalogs within a week (week of 10/6), and will be given two weeks to indicate their preferences for course selection.

7. Would it be possible for a student to take all classes with no homework?

“Theoretically yes, but the likelihood is slim to none. Because only 31% of classes have no homework, the probability of  being scheduled into only those, even if you wanted it, is highly unlikely.” – Susan Robinson