All courses in history at Holderness School emphasize the need to read critically, think carefully, and communicate clearly. Teachers attempt to instill the idea that “history” is an ever–changing, individual reinterpretation of the past. To understand history one must therefore understand the historian. Students are challenged to think for themselves, engage their peers’ ideas and to balance the different interpretations of our past as they establish and hone historical thinking skills.Required Coursework
Foundations of Modern Society
All ninth grade students are required to take Foundations of Modern Society, a one–semester course in the second semester. Emphasizing fundamental historical thinking skills through diverse case studies, this course serves as a unifying, foundational academic experience. It is intentionally broad in scope and teachers employ 3-4 diverse content areas to grapple with the essential question: How do social groups form and thrive? While the specific units vary from year to year and teacher to teacher, there is a special focus on the role governments play in forming societies, the way perception of the “other” can form a group, and the way an idea can develop a group identity. There is an explicit focus on developing an understanding that every source is an interpretation. Teachers employ at least of two different historians’ interpretations in each unit of a historical event, several contrasting primary sources, and various visual interpretations. This course also shares a main essential question with the English Humanities
course, “How do I learn best?” and developing students’ metacognition about their individual learning process.
All tenth-grade students and eleventh grade students, who have yet to take a year of US history, are required to engage one of the following offerings in American History. Read about the three options here
After the introductory course, Foundations of Modern Society, and the year of US history, students are well positioned to embrace our upper-level electives. The history requirement is two full years, and thus at some point in their 11th or 12th grade year students take a minimum of one semester of history. In the upper levels of the curriculum, students may begin to branch out into the social sciences of comparative government, media studies, psychology or economics. Two intellectual history offerings allow students to foray into philosophy. We also offer several area studies courses. Beginning in the spring of 2018, we are excited to have upper level students engage our US History 2 electives.
We also offer one elective for 9th graders in the fall who just can not wait a semester to take a history course! For the fall of 2017, this course will be the History of Modern Terrorism.
Our Shared Shelf
These are books the history department has read together:
This summer we are reading:
History Work featured in the Mosaic
History Work featured in The Lamp
Other History Work