History

This yearlong required course is an introduction to the study of history—not just what happened in the recent past but how to think like a historian. The aim of this class is to give students the skills they need to conduct their own authentic historical investigations. Students will practice these skills through a variety of thinking, reflecting, and critiquing activities, through problem-solving and project design, and yes, through reading and writing. There is no core text; rather, the class will be using online resources and various written materials to practice research and close-reading skills as we examine major events from the recent past. This course is required for incoming ninth-grade students.

Global Citizenship provides students with the opportunity to examine contemporary issues in the modern global community and explore how ideas of citizenship can be used to address major present-day scenarios while preparing for the future. Global Citizenship will also challenge students to understand the interconnected nature of our planet and how history, culture, economics, and political forces shape our world. Through this understanding, students will develop a greater sense of their responsibility as citizens of the earth.

United States History is a yearlong, in-depth study of the nation’s history built around a close examination of three central episodes of American history through the interpretive lens of the broadly defined concept of “revolution.” These three episodes are the American Revolution (18th century), the Civil War and Reconstruction (19th century), and the Civil Rights Movement (20th century). We will approach our investigation of these transformative periods as historians, exploring relevant primary source material; comparing perspectives; analyzing factors such as bias, causation, and correlation; undertaking collaborative projects; and conducting original historical research, all with the goal of building up a nuanced, balanced, and authentic understanding of why and how these pivotal changes occurred, and what they meant at that time and now for the evolution of the American nation and society.

Lyall Watson famously stated, “If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.” Nevertheless, we will take a crack at using our mighty brains to gain insight into ourselves and those around us. In this survey course, students will be introduced to core concepts and methods of inquiry and evaluation in the study of psychology. We will take every opportunity to relate these concepts to our own experiences and perceptions, an endeavor uniquely suited to the subject of psychology. Among the topics covered will be the history of psychology, major psychological theories, sensation and perception, learning and memory, intelligence and testing, developmental psychology, states of consciousness, personality, motivation and emotion, prejudice and discrimination, group dynamics, abnormal psychology, treatment and therapies, and careers in psychology. At the end of the course students should have a greater understanding of psychology as a field of inquiry, increased insight into the complex factors that drive our behavior, and be intelligent consumers of psychological theories.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

In the 1950s, civic engagement was at an all-time high but what were the social implications? The class will read excerpts from Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam to discuss the dissolution of social attendance, coupled with the rise of technological achievements. The course will also have a civic engagement experiential element, consisting of the creation of a social compact regarding participation in government. We will also examine the Darrow community: its components, its mission, and its identity. We will collaborate as a group to create a visual representation of our conclusions.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

This course will complement Sacred Text by delving into attempts to answer the big questions of existence, knowledge, and morality from the perspective of human reason rather than faith (or, as the Greeks had it, logos instead of mythos). Students will learn about major philosophical thinkers and ideas to encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and the examination of ideas often taken for granted. They will begin by exploring the way major topics of inquiry were identified in classical Greece, and how those topics came to dominate the western philosophical tradition. The course will then delve into the philosophy of religion, including the various attempts to prove the existence of God, and the explanations for the existence of evil in the world. Students will then move to the study of moral philosophy, in particular the ideas of Mill and Kant, as well as the various critiques of their ideas, in order to better understand the development of moral and political frameworks that inform our lives, both on an individual and societal level. After analyzing the response to Kant by German idealists, primarily Hegel, students will dive into the Marxian tradition, and conclude the course with the major trends of late 19th-century and 20th-century philosophy, primarily existentialism.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

“What if…?” Alternate history is a relatively new field of historical inquiry (though a longstanding subject of fiction) that attempts to deepen our understanding and appreciation of actual history by imagining alternate outcomes to pivotal historical events. What if… Lincoln had not been assassinated? Hitler had invaded and conquered Britain in 1940? John Adams had refused to relinquish the presidency to Thomas Jefferson in 1801? The Nationalists had won China’s civil war? Rather than Native Americans being decimated by European diseases, it had happened the other way around? Respected historians and accomplished fiction writers have contributed vivid and compelling historical scenarios to the growing body of alternate history work. Following a study of the real history of selected events, we will read and analyze corresponding alternate history accounts of these events. Students will also research, write, and present their own alternate history scenarios. Through answering the overarching question of “What if…?” students will develop their historical knowledge, critical thinking, and historical imagination.

InHumanity taps into current events and 20th-century history to survey the extreme poles of human political behavior, ranging from the deplorable to the sublime. This course will be organized into biweekly themes, oscillating between topics that include, but are not limited to, the Nazi Holocaust, César Chávez’s NFWA, the Syrian civil war, Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD, the Native American experience in the modern United States, and a range of nonprofit activist organizations working to advance justice and the human condition. Students will adopt research topics of their own interest about which they will educate their peers and teacher alike. By independently researching and comparatively analyzing modern episodes of noble humanity and egregious inhumanity, together we will attempt to establish a set of universal truths regarding humans at our very best and absolute worst.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

In Women and Leadership, students will learn to understand and articulate the unique challenges that are facing modern society. Students will study and research how gender and related factors influence leadership styles and will learn strategies to facilitate inclusion and social justice for women. We will study prominent women throughout history and how they navigated through their own pressures or challenges to accomplish great things. We will work on communication, leadership, problem-solving skills, and team-building exercises as ways to promote inclusivity. Students will leave Women and Leadership feeling more equipped to implement positive change on behalf of women in the greater society.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.

How do you best create and build a successful 21st-century enterprise? This course introduces students to the basic concepts of building a modern business, with the goal of each student building a business plan by the end of the semester for either a not-for-profit or for-profit business. We will study the stories behind the rise of several companies, and the decisions that put them on the road to success. Course topics will include: lean startup methodology; case studies of successful businesses; nonprofit business management; how to read profit/loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements; how to identify business opportunities; the basics of marketing; the basics of human resources; and the uses and dangers of debt.

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