History and Social Science

Successful historians and social scientists engage with their world. They seek to understand human goodness, interpersonal fairness and social justice. Successful learners in history and the social sciences probe those moments in history, and in their own lived experience, when the good appears to vanish, allowing injustice, in its many forms, to flourish. Ultimately, successful social scientists become activists, advocating for a theory of being, of societies, of economic systems, and of ecology, that promote the good, the beautiful and the just.

To become successful in this endeavor, Tilton School students must continue to develop their facility with the School’s Essential Skills. First they must ask good, probing questions about how the human world works. They must employ research and critical questions skills to understand what has already been learned on the topic and from a variety of sources. They must consider the perspectives of the multiple stakeholders who are involved in their research. They must strive to develop their written and oral communication skills, employing responsible research practices, thesis development, and clear, engaging presentation. Ultimately, 

History and Social Sciences Curriculum

This course introduces students to the theory of entrepreneurship and its practical implementation. It focuses on different stages related to the entrepreneurial process, including business model innovation, monetization, small business management.  Students in the course will study Tilton’s downtown’s Gold Rush Cafe, as a working model of an entrepreneurial venture.  Students will also develop skills in written business communication and oral presentations that allow students to integrate entrepreneurship concepts and interact with business experts. This course is intentionally focused on advanced credit opportunity.

A research-based seminar course, Civics and Current Events develops students’ understanding of their contemporary world and their role, not only as global citizens but as citizens in the many communities they are involved with. Based on the ancient Greek notion of paideia, the course aims to build a more aware and responsive citizenry/polis/community by focusing on the role of government, economic systems, national and international relationships, the rights of individuals and institutions and the roles that the individual plays in these areas.  The course, therefore, will ask students to research and grapple with today’s most challenging issues.

Students will develop their critical thinking, communication and mindfulness skills through frequent discussion, weekly writing and project based assessments that will challenge their analysis and synthesis of both original and researched ideas.

This course allows students to earn academic credit for travel abroad and cultural immersion experiences. The course has three phases. The first phase includes preparation and learning about the target country and culture. The second phase is cultural immersion, an intense period of time, usually seven to ten days during spring break, when students travel to and live in the culture of interest and are actively involved in service work, in environmental exploration and study, in language and social immersion learning, or in historical or cultural study. The course may vary from year to year in its learning focus and target culture. The third phase of the course occurs after return to school and includes a period of personal and group reflection on learning as well as reporting back to the school community using a variety of media resources. The campus-based elements of the course typically involve blended learning activities and are organized outside of the regular daily school schedule.

 

The course will focus on exploring culture and social justice in a developing Caribbean nation, the Dominican Republic. This immersion experience is organized and provided by the Batey Foundation. The mission statement of this organization is “to raise the living standards of the present generation of children and their families living in the Bateys (sugar workers’ settlements) of the Dominican Republic, who are severely affected by poverty, disease and hunger, while promoting sustainable development for future generations” (www.thebateyfoundation.org). Students taking this course will explore and learn about poverty, social justice/injustice and Caribbean history and culture, and will engage in direct service work, typically working with children in a school or community setting, or helping to build or repair community resources.

Travel and associated expenses are paid for by the student and his or her family, as with other spring break trips. The cost is approximately $2000/student for airfare, meals, lodging, donation of materials, and recreational/cultural activities. This course bridges the gap between the classroom and the real world with its focus on diversity, change and service. This experiential learning pushes students to reach the power of their potential, by challenging comfort zones and learning how to adapt successfully to a completely different environment and culture.

What is justice? How do the laws/rules created by societies reflect the values of the people that make up the society? How are laws enforced? What does punishment achieve? How should a society balance the rights of individuals within the society with the well being of the society as a whole? These essential questions will guide our in-depth study of the American criminal justice system. Students will examine the processes by which laws are made and enforced and the ways in which society responds to disputes or law breaking. The class will analyze and examine both local and national recent crimes closely to assess patterns of crime in this country, the effectiveness of courts, attitudes of citizens towards the police, and the prisons’ impact on the incarcerated as they combine to function as the criminal justice system. The students will also compare and evaluate the  justice system and analyze whether rehabilitative programs and restorative justice systems lower recidivism more than punitive incarceration sentences.

In this college preparatory course, students embark on an investigation of the study of human mind and behavior. There is an emphasis on scientific reasoning and analysis of complex human phenomena, as well as on the application of psychological concepts to real-world issues. Major themes of the course are the relationships between brain and behavior, body and mind, nature and nurture. Core topics include the study of the life span development of an individual, major subfields such as cognitive psychology, emotion and motivation, social psychology, abnormal psychology, and personality. The course overlaps in content and skill development with the AP Psychology course, but allows for in-depth investigation of fewer topics, stresses the practical application of theoretical knowledge and asks students to put their learning into practice in their school community as Peer Counselors, Proctors, Team Captains and other community leadership roles.

In this course, students investigate the study of human mind and behavior, following the model of a college-level introductory course. There is an emphasis on scientific reasoning and analysis of complex human phenomena, as well as on the application of psychological concepts to real-world issues. Major themes of the course are the relationships between brain and behavior, body and mind, nature and nurture. Core topics include the study of the life span development of an individual, and the subfields of cognitive psychology, social psychology, abnormal psychology and the study of personality. Students spend additional time reviewing and preparing for the AP Psychology exam, offered in May.

The emphasis of this class will be creating a knowledge base in multiple areas of the study of history. The ultimate goal is to have the students be better historians when they finish their coursework. Content work will begin with work on world geography where students will develop a better knowledge of regions, countries and influential topographic features.

The course then moves into work in two major themes. First is an examination of historically influential government and economic systems where ancient world history will be the starting point and the class will examine the development of these systems. The second theme will be world religions where the origins of some of the major world religions will be examined again using their origination point in ancient history as the backdrop for expanded understanding of the complex situations that have arisen around religion in general. Ancient civilizations that will be studied are: Greece, Rome, China, Japan, and the Middle East.

Skill emphasis in this course will be heavily based in communication, critical thinking, and content knowledge acquisition. Students will work to expand their skill sets in each of these areas in order to have a strong foundation as they enter tenth grade.

Students can earn an Honors designation by completing three projects that require significant self-direction under the guidance of the teacher.

Explorations in World History examines the history of significant global communities and the intersection of communities, ideas and intellectual movements. Connecting traditional learning of significant historical developments in key regions of the world with an examination of current global issues, the course is designed to engage students actively investigating the changing world and the rise and fall of empires and countries and the role that ideas play in the development of societies and cultures.  Students in this course will be focused on how communities, ideas and nations evolve, develop and spread, as well as the increased globalization of the world through migration and exploration and exchange of cultures and ideas. The curriculum is designed to provide students with training and practice in the acquisition of skills, with a clear focus on communication and critical thinking and decision making along with the acquisition of knowledge necessary for the study of history to prepare students for US History the following year. The class is project and discussion based, with a focus on the analyzing of primary source material and the application of skills and ideas.

Honors Exploration in World History will follow the same model as Explorations in World History, but is designed to prepare students for Honors or AP US History and the curriculum will be a more rigorous and in depth curriculum, while examining the same subjects.

Designed predominantly for juniors, United States History is a course that provides a thematic investigation of the idea of the American Experiment. The main areas of investigation focus on how the United States changes and experiments with its political system, how it addresses and adapts to the changing social and demographic trends and finally how its interactions with the global world impact the economic realities of its citizens and the world at large. In this course, students are challenged to develop critical thinking, and communication skills. Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to formulate and defend an argument that is supported by historical evidence and logical discussion. Students are also expected to understand connections that others have made between the past and the present, but also to be able to make those connections themselves and to apply these understandings to their own lives. The core lesson is that the study of history makes a difference in the experiences of today.

The honors section of the standard United States History curriculum is provided for students who have demonstrated strengths in communication, and critical thinking, but who choose not to enroll in the AP U.S. History course. While covering the same general topics as the standard curriculum, the pace of the Honors section is accelerated; students read different and/or additional texts and complete more detailed writing assignments and projects. Successful completion of the Honors American History class prepares students well for Advanced Placement courses in their senior year.

A faster-paced and more challenging version of the standard United States History course (above), this course provides a rigorous intellectual challenge for students who are seriously interested in the study of history and who have already demonstrated advanced levels of skills in communication, critical thinking and a strong conceptual understandings world history. The AP program in United States History is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and enduring understandings necessary to deal critically with the problems and issues that are exposed in the course of their study of history.

The course prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by a full-year introductory college course. Students learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretive problem, their reliability, and their importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. The course develops the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in an essay format.

This course is designed for qualified students who wish to complete studies in secondary school equivalent to a one-semester college introductory course in government and politics. The course replaces an earlier elective course in Politics offered by the department, while maintaining many of the same learning objectives.

This course examines the nature of government and social structures and is organized around a basic assumption that politics is the science, which examines how groups make collective decisions. The philosophy and theory of government and social structures is examined before moving on to an in-depth analysis of the mechanics of American government. Engaging students in inquiry of the issues revolving around the American political system is essential in preparing them to be lifelong learners and responsible, active citizens. While the major focus of the course is the governmental and political systems of the United States, a lens of comparative study of systems of governance throughout the world is employed when possible to deepen understanding of US government while providing a broad global context for appreciating the strengths and limitations of American democracy. In doing so, this course supports the objective of the Senior/PG program in preparing students for active and informed citizenship in the interconnected global political domain of the 21st century. As in all senior level Social Science courses, students complete a Capstone Inquiry research project.

This course is a third trimester elective offering in the elective program. Students taking this course should have successfully completed US history and a junior level English course. The study of history has deep roots in human culture all over the world, but the main task of a historian is not simply to record facts and dates, it is to evaluate the evidence available. History then is the selection, interpretation and evaluation of evidence for the purpose of revealing what happened, how it happened and why it is important. Since Edison’s invention of the kinetoscope, America and the rest of the world have been transformed by motion pictures. Some films have purposefully taken on the task of recreating past events, with varying degrees of historical accuracy. This has caused many historical purists to argue that since these films are not made by historians they do not accurately recreate the past, and are made only for entertainment and commercial purposes.

 

Regardless of their accuracy, these films reveal important historical information about the society and culture in which they are created. In this course, students will explore contemporary films as historical evidence for both the time period being depicted as well as the period in which the film is created. Students will watch feature films from a variety of US historical time periods. Students will research the time periods being depicted in the films as well as the time period in which the films were made. Class discussions and a blended learning environment will form the major learning activities, while the main tool for assessing student learning will be expository and persuasive essays.

 

The following essential questions will serve as a driving force for this course: Is film reliable as historical evidence? What determines the reliability of films as historical evidence? What does this film say about the society and culture in which the film was created? Can this film be used to learn about history? This course offers a diversified learning experience that will prepare students for future learning experiences and will foster a passion for lifelong learning. It will expose students to different cultures and conflicts in the history of our country, and will help students to become more sophisticated and informed consumers of visual media and the film experience of popular culture. Students will learn a new appreciation of the art of film and will understand better how the right skills and knowledge can help to create a just and healthy community.

This interdisciplinary course replaces the prior course offering in Economics, and provides an integrated learning experience in which students simultaneously acquire skills and knowledge in a Social Sciences domain (Economics) and in Mathematics (Statistics). IM3 and a US History course are prerequisites. By examining conceptual and real-world economic concepts through the utilization of sound statistical practices, students will internalize the core principles of each field in a deep and lasting manner. The course, and this approach, provides a broad background for students who wish to pursue degrees in business or economics at the college level. The work of the course includes formal written assessments, informal class discussions of relevant real-world events, both current and historical, presentations on interdisciplinary projects and ongoing in-depth project work, leading to Capstone presentations. Examples of specific topics and activities include: discussion of current economic events such as Greece’s relationship with the Euro, Brexit, and the United States’ engagement in trade wars with foreign countries, as well as historic economic events including the Great Depression and the financial crisis of 2008.

This course is designed as a combined course to prepare qualified students for the AP exams in Microeconomics and/or Macroeconomics. All students are expected to take one of these exams. Students may opt to take both. The course is designed for students with strong mathematical skills, sound critical thinking skills, and the motivation and independence to accomplish the independent work required for success in an AP curriculum. Enrollment is allowed only for students who are recommended by the Department, and with the permission of the instructor. Qualified juniors may be permitted to enroll.

According to the College Board, the purpose of an AP course in microeconomics is to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision makers, both consumers and producers, within the economic system. It places primary emphasis on the nature and functions of product markets and includes the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. In comparison, an AP course in macroeconomics gives students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole.

The course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. The Tilton School AP Economics course will cover each of these domains, with a general focus on one or the other area in each semester. The course will provide students with a rigorous 21st century learning environment including the use of electronic textbooks and electronic media for sharing course information and discussions. Multiple connections to real-world events supplement traditional concepts and learning in this demanding but highly practical Advanced Placement curriculum.

The Power to Share a Vision

Tilton School students in the Social Sciences emerge from the program with a deepening understanding of their world, a broadening perspective of their place in it, their own vision of responsible, 21st century, global citizenship and the rhetorical power to share that vision.