We teach histories big and small, and integrate historical thinking and reading across the curriculum.
Our history curriculum involves year-long instruction in the oral presentation of research, and emphasize skills in researching, listening, and speaking.
This middle school history course follows the multi-faceted story of the rise, flourishing, and fall of Classical Athens. What factors gave rise to this astonishingly fertile society? What were its achievements? Why did it decline? We especially consider how the legacy of Classical Athens continues to shape our world today. In each block we delve into a specific aspect of Classical Athens: the Olympics, the birth of democracy, theater, philosophy, and architecture. We read selections (in translation) from the works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Pausanius, Plutarch, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, and Aristophanes. Through the words of these great thinkers, we gain an understanding and appreciation of different approaches to the study of “history.” Beyond content, the course emphasizes developing transferable skills, especially with regard to reading, comprehending, and analyzing a variety of texts and carrying out different kinds of writing assignments. We foster skills such as researching, speaking, and performing in front of others. We work collaboratively as a class, while at the same time challenging each student to meet his or her individual potential.
World History: Agency and Change
In this 9th grade course on world history, we study four troubling chapters of inequality and prejudice at different points in time across the globe: the transatlantic slave trade, the Holocaust, colonialism and independence in India, and apartheid in South Africa. Through these case studies, students gain an understanding of how systems of oppression are constructed, but they also learn how these systems can be dismantled by the strength of the human spirit. The course, then, focuses on the possibilities for positive change in the world. Along the way, students piece together the fragments of history—original documents, images, and objects—and respond to different historians’ interpretations of the past. Our goal is to help students grow as empathetic, global citizens who understand the role human agency can play in worldwide events.
US History: Designing Memorials
This high school course studies US history through the lens of days, sculptures, and sites of remembrance. Students build toward presenting memorial designs of their own at the end of the year. To learn both design principles and the history of the United States, we learn to read memorials as “texts” that tell us explicit and implicit messages about their subjects. Readings include contrasting selections from books like A People’s History of the United States and A Patriot’s History of the United States; scholarship like Memorial Mania and Poetry After Auschwitz; newspaper and magazine articles on the controversies behind recently opened sites (such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall); and primary source materials like the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and Letter from Birmingham Jail. Students write a design proposal modeled on an open call for a design competition, and present their findings and designs in a year-end symposium. This course is expected to be offered in the 2017-2018 academic year.
Electives and Directed Research
Advanced students may choose to take electives and engage directed research projects in areas determined jointly by student interest and faculty expertise.