This course is a survey of U.S. history from pre-history to the present. In the first semester, topics include the migrations to the Americas, the colonial and revolutionary periods, the development of the Republic, and the Civil War. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in early American history. In the second semester, topics include industrialization, immigration, the Great Depression, the major American wars, the Cold War, and social conflict. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in late 19th and 20th century American history. Throughout the course, Native Americans, minorities, women, and representative biographies are also examined.
Texts: United States History, Emma Lapsansky-Werner. New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2010.
Don't Know Much About History, Kenneth Davis. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
Level: This course is usually offered to juniors but is appropriate for all levels. The course satisfies a year-long history requirement.
World History at Besant Hill School is designed to investigate the development of the world's civilizations by studying their political and economic systems as well as their social, cultural, and religious contributions to history. Through this course, students will gain insight into past events and see how those events have led to current world situations. Focus will also be placed on developing the skills and knowledge necessary to communicate effectively in an academic environment.
Students will be able to:
- describe features of the world's physical and natural environment and explain how the environment has affected and been affected by historical developments.
- explain large-scale and long-term historical developments of regional, interregional, and global scope.
- analyze ways in which human groups have come into contact and interacted with one another, including systems of communication, migration, commercial exchange, conquest, and cultural diffusion.
- assess the significance of key turning points in world history.
- describe the development and significance of distinctive forms of political, social, and economic organization.
- identify major discoveries, inventions, and scientific achievements, and assess their impact on society.
- identify achievements in art, architecture, literature, and philosophy, and assess their impact on society.
- explain ideals, practices, and historical developments of major belief systems.
- identify challenges that humans have faced in the ecological, economic, political, and other spheres of life, and explain how they have responded to those challenges.
- reflect upon choices humans have made in the past and consider how choices made today may affect the future.
Level: This course is usually offered to sophomores.
Prerequisite: Approval from the teacher is required to engage in extra work for honors credit.
The focus of this course is to build skills that students will need to be successful in high school and beyond. Therefore, while the content of this course is very important, it is equally important to build good study skills, reading comprehension, note-taking, oral presentation, analytical, research, essay composition, and time management skills.
The content of this course looks at culture and geography through themes and different thematic lenses. Cultural Geography allows us to look at the changing world, the global village, how geography has a cultural and societal response, and incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to history. Think of this course not just as a history of cultures, or memorizing maps. Rather we will approach this class constantly questioning and incorporating different disciplines that may include: an environmental, comparative religion, linguistics, sociological, political, and/or architectural perspective. How do borders, natural and man-made, shape our lives? What leads people to commit ethnic genocide, and does geography play a part in ethnic conflicts? How has globalization impacted cultures? What do we learn about culture through food? When we are discussing global environmental problems, and countries become increasingly obsolete, how will we respond globally? These are just some of the questions and topics that we cover within the course.
Level: This course is an entry-level history course offered to lower classmen, primarily freshmen.
HONORS U.S. HISTORY
The first semester is largely focused on domestic policy and isolationist America, whereas the second semester delves into imperialism, expansionism, foreign policy, and the wars and politics of the the 20th Century. The first semester primary focus is on the beginnings of American history, European conquest, Puritan ideals, Native American history, and the foundation of American government. We then examine the political, social, and economic events that contributed to the Civil War and the Reconstruction and Jim Crow era. We close the first semester with a study of the Gilded Age, robber barons' impact on politics and society, and we examine immigration waves into the U.S. during the Gilded Age.
The second semester examines the role of the United States in international politics. We discuss U.S. imperialist ventures, such as the annexation of Hawaii, Spanish-American War and the Filipino insurrection. We transition into WWI, its origins in Europe, U.S. involvement, the home front and subsequent political, social and economic effects on the U.S. We continue with the boom and bust of the Twenties and Thirties, World War II and the Cold War. We debate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and discuss the issues of nuclear testing. We then engage in a critical analysis of the history of Africans in America, beginning with the Civil Rights movement of the 1950's and 60's and ending with a discussion of current trends in race relations in America. The topics covered in the second semester are contrasted with the current recession, education policy today, and repercussions of Cold War policies in current events.
Texts: The primary texts used in this course are, but are not limited to, the following books:
- The Peoples' History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki
- Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth Davis
- Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
During this course, students will learn about major religions of the world including Native American religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This will be accomplished by studying components common to all religions such as theology, ritual, myth, symbols, daily life, etc. within the context of each unique religion. Through the study of such components, as well as history and worldview, students should be able to distinguish between and understand major religions of the world. Specifically, by the end of the semester, students should be able to speak about the ultimate reality unique to each major religion, the differences between various Western religions, as well as Eastern religions, and the broad similarities amongst major religions.
Texts: Many Peoples, Many Faiths, by Robert S. Ellwood, Barbara A. McGraw. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
Level: The course is usually offered to juniors and seniors.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT U.S. GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
This is a survey course that covers the following units:
- constitutional underpinnings
- political beliefs, political socialization, and public opinion
- political parties, mass media, and Interest groups
- civil liberties
- institutions of government
- public policy
Level: This is an upper-division AP course in American government and politics. It is designed to be at a university freshman level, so it is recommended that we limit this course to juniors and seniors.
Prerequisite: U.S. History
This course is designed to introduce students to the painting, sculpture and architecture composing the history of Western art from prehistory to present day. Students also engage in ongoing research of art beyond the Western tradition throughout the year. A project-based and student-centered approach is most frequently implemented rather than a lecture style. Comparisons across styles and cultures are made to discover deeper meaning and understand how similar genres and subjects are uniquely expressed in disparate cultures and time periods. Students will examine short articles by key historians and critics and study selected chapters from art history texts, rather than reading a chronological textbook. Students should leave this course with an appreciation and enjoyment of the history of art.
Level: All levels