The curriculum of the History Department aims to provide students with a strong academic skill set and a solid introduction to numerous areas of historical study. Beyond a simple exposure to the material, there is a conscious effort within the department to make students globally aware and engaged. This objective is achieved by making students think of themselves as global citizens and encouraging them to learn about major national and world events as they are happening. The specific academic skills focused upon within the department are writing, public speaking, and the analysis of sources.
Eighth grade Social Studies is based primarily on the study of civics. Students explore the meaning, duties and responsibilities of citizenship as well as gain understanding about the guiding values that the United States was founded on. Before students delve into an in-depth study of the structure of both our national and state governments, they learn about the social institutions that drive our society. The curriculum in this eighth grade class is not only a study of civics, but also an opportunity to build important study skills that will support their future studies.
Ninth grade World Cultures course seeks to begin the process of emphasizing that students are part of a global community. World Cultures is a geographical survey/world history course that aims to expose students to a wide range of human cultures and the areas in which they live. Through a combination of text and internet-based sources students will research ancient human civilizations and systematically learn about different geographic regions. The course also seeks to start the process of exposing students to academic writing and research techniques.
Tenth grade Western Civilization asks students to think about history in the context of the western world. One of the major risks of a course of this type is that students may begin to see the west with a certain level of superiority. To avoid this trap Western Civilization is taught with an eye toward global community. From an academic skill standpoint, writing becomes a top priority in this class. Students are required to analyze sources and begin to formulate academic arguments in a persuasive essay format. The specific time period examined in Western Civilization is from approximately 1100 A.D. through World War I.
Eleventh grade U.S. History course focuses on the major historical and cultural events of American history from the Civil War period through Vietnam. This class continues to build on previously established academic skills and demands that a student be able to craft a true historical research paper through the examination of primary source documents. Beyond polishing writing skills, this course is very discussion intensive and requires that students be able to develop and express their own opinions on a variety of subjects.
Twelfth grade Contemporary History encourages students to become well informed citizens and voters. This is accomplished primarily by daily monitoring of domestic and international events through online media, specifically the New York Times, as well as others such as The Economist, Al Jazzeera and other news outlets as students discover them. An emphasis is placed on students becoming critical consumers of the news, regardless of its origin. In addition, students read one or two books which cover recent history, for example, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, The Places In Between by Rory Stewart, or Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton. As a result of recent world events, the focus of this class over the last two years has been the Middle East. However, this course is designed to be flexible enough to shift focus almost immediately to respond to whatever events or issues arise.