"Study the past if you would divine the future." This teaching of Confucius helps to form one of the fundamental goals of our History faculty, which is to develop in our students both an understanding of the past as well as the tools to imagine and help shape the future.
The Upper School History program develops in students an understanding of their own place in time, through consideration, appreciation and interpretation of the events and trends of the past. The program inspires in students an interest in history, an understanding of the art and science of historiography, and an appreciation for how history plays an important role throughout one's life. It seeks to encourage students to become informed citizens of their communities and the world.
Teachers work with students to develop skills in close textual reading, analytical writing, critical thinking and analysis, synthesis of ideas, and decision-making. They also stress interpretation of primary sources and require students to assimilate ideas from the past and the contemporary cultural, social and political milieu. Students are encouraged to go beyond rote learning of dates, facts and events to begin to understand and analyze the significance of these in larger contexts and how they are relevant today.
In all courses, students are challenged to be part of the subject that they study, appropriate to their level of learning. Classroom emphasis is on engaging students in a variety of ways, including discussion, storytelling through oral and written history, research, use of media and technology, guest speakers and lectures. Written assignments stress the acquisition and development of the tools of historical research and analytical writing.
Upper School students are required to complete two years of World History and an additional year of United States History. Juniors and seniors have the option, with departmental recommendation, to enroll in AP level courses in United States History, U.S. Government, Comparative Government and Microeconomics. The History faculty also offers elective courses such as United States Social and Cultural History, Decisions in Leadership, Propaganda in Art and History, History and Film, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Psychology and Economics, among others.