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Stratton Mountain School’s history curriculum is structured to reflect a chronological, thematic and geographical progression of study. World History (9th grade) focuses on the development of major world civilizations throughout the Ancient period and Middle Ages and concludes with the first major era of global integration. United States History (10th, 11th) is offered over two academic years covering the respective periods of 1450-1877 for the first year, and 1877-1991 during American History II. Chronologically, the course picks up where World History left off; however, the course offers a more focused examination of one society’s social, political and economic development. The second year of United States History is more global in nature, which lays the foundation for Multicultural Studies (12th grade). A contemporary study of globalization, international relations and economics, Multicultural Studies is a departure from a textbook-based examination of the past to an article-based analysis of the present and future. Stratton Mountain School students are required to take three years of history and complete two years of United States History in order to graduate.

History 7

In 7th Grade Social Studies we focus on early American History, beginning with the first Americans through the beginning of the Cold War era. Throughout the year, as we study the different units, we focus on the several major themes that influenced the early development of our nation including: culture and traditions, geographical history, government, civic rights and responsibilities, economic factors and global connections. 

As the course progresses, much attention will be given to the study of race, class and the struggle for rights in American society and how these issues affect us today. Every student will have the opportunity to experience debates, presentations and library and internet based research. In addition, each student will develop skills in the area of organization, speaking and writing.

History 8: World Geography

World Geography is a year long seminar designed to introduce eighth grade students to the dynamics and realities of our world. Undertaking a study of both physical and social (or human) geography, we will make our way across the globe, continent by continent, looking at how the people and their environments interact. The year begins with a month-long study of what geography is: What do geographers do? How do geographers think? What tools do geographers employ? What skills must geographers have? What does it mean to think spatially? What are the dynamics of the physical earth that impact human life? What are demographics? After mastering the disciplinary vocabulary, we will move on to a series of region-based units. First we look at North America, followed by South America and the Caribbean. Then, we move onto continental Europe and the Middle East. The third quarter begins with an in-depth look at the African continent and South Asia. We conclude the year studying East and Southeast Asia.

Each unit will begin with a series of formal maps, beginning with a physical map that outlines each region’s important physical features, water systems, wind currents, climate systems, and other resources. Then we move on to the political features, country and city names. Often, we will superimpose other important information onto our maps: urban areas, immigration patterns, economic figures, and government types, for example. As we work on maps in class, we will be reading along in our textbook World Geography and Cultures. During each unit, we will engage in multimedia presentations that provide a sense of what every day life is like in each area, and we will explore different elements of culture like cuisine, pop music, dress and TV. We will have several creative projects throughout the year: a tourism pamphlet for South America, a Google maps trip through South East Asia, an engineered solution to environmental problems in Africa. There will be several short research assignments and one larger project about the Nobel Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai, of Kenya. While away at ski camps, students organize information for research projects that they will execute back on campus.

World History

World History is a course designed to introduce ninth grade students to the basic narrative of human history. The course begins with “Pre-history,” the time period before the Neolithic and Agricultural Revolutions of 10,000 BC. It then looks at the ways that settlements and cities changed the course of human development. In the first half of the academic year, World History will take a regional approach to learning how the world’s first major civilizations developed. The civilizations of Europe, Eurasia, South Asia, East Asia, Africa and the Americas will unfold as World History moves around the globe to construct, compare and contrast the various societies that developed in the Ancient and Middle Ages. By Winter Break, students in World History will have a thorough comparative understanding of the world’s major culture regions in terms of their economic, social, technological and political strengths and weaknesses.

In the second half of the year, World History shift to become a more traditional chronological study of the Modern World. Major topics such as the Renaissance, Reformation and Exploration will provide a jumping off point for the central question of the second semester: How was Western Europe able to effectively conquer or dominate the rest of the world? What technologies, ideas, institutions, individuals, and events facilitated Europe’s takeover? In answering this question, the course will look at how Europe interacted with other major world civilizations and how global dynamics shifted in the process. The course will move through the ages of Exploration, Slavery, Colonialism, Revolution, Imperialism and Nationalism. The World Wars, as products of these distinct ages, will be the final focus of World History. All of this is to lay the groundwork for students’ understanding of American history, America’s rise to global dominance and the current geopolitical landscape. World History is a reading-intensive course. Students must hone their nightly reading skills in order to participate in discussions, pass reading quizzes and build a narrative history. Class time is split between discussion, note taking and group work. Students must develop a successful strategy for taking and storing notes throughout the year, as class notes and reading notes form the foundation for all quizzes, tests and exams.

American History I

American History I covers the history of the North America from 1450 to 1877. Beginning long before the inception of the sovereign nation, the course begins with a simultaneous examination of early modern European societies and American civilizations. The course focuses on the interactions between these two worlds, paying special attention to the development of British North America. After studying the colonial and Revolutionary periods, students focus on the political and economic development of the new nation, as it thrives in some ways (political democracy, civil society, market integration) and struggles in others (sectional tension, persistent lack of freedom). 

Using Columbia professor Eric Foner’s magnificent survey text, Give Me Liberty!: An American History, students learn to read and analyze at an advanced level. The course is student driven and discussion oriented.

American History II

American History II provides an overview of United States history from the beginning of the 20th century to the current day. Emphasis is placed on major events, geography, individuals and ideas which comprise our American Heritage. Students examine and analyze historic, geographic, political and economic concepts and issues. Topics covered in this course include industrialization, immigration, imperialism, World War One, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War Two, post-war America, the Cold War era, the Civil Rights movement and contemporary American issues. Through these topics, the students examine the following major historical themes: Citizenship and Civil Rights; American Culture & Arts; Free Enterprise and the American Economy; The Expansion of the United States; Immigrants in Search of the American Dream; Checks and Balances in the Federal Government; The United States Supreme Court; and American Innovations in Technology. Students learn about these themes through extensive reading, lecture, class room discussion, homework assignments, timeline exercises and examination of primary sources. 

Course work employs a variety of analytical skills to assess historical materials so that students can arrive at conclusions based on an informed judgment. Students learn to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in various essay formats. Through the analysis of the social and cultural development of the United States, students develop an appreciation of American ideals and achievements.

Multi-Cultural Studies

Multicultural Studies is a seminar designed to take SMS’ seniors beyond American History, beyond the boundaries of Vermont, beyond the confines of studying the past.  It is a course where students are exposed to a variety of academic disciplines: history, international relations, economics, government and philosophy. The class takes current events and foreign policy decisions into account when analyzing modern global dynamics. It is a college-level seminar that emphasizes heavy student participation and leadership. Students who find themselves unaware of or uninterested in world events at the beginning of the year will soon be regular checkers of the front page. Multicultural Studies is designed to help students situate themselves in global affairs, in the narrative of world history.

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