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History

The History Department wants students to gain insight into the connection between significant historical events and today’s complex world. Our courses develop each student’s appreciation for and understanding of the past and its impact on the present by engaging students in discussions, debates, simulations, primary and secondary sources, and research projects. Particular emphasis is placed on historical thinking skills, analysis, and interpretation. Innovative assignments challenge students to recreate historical eras through a variety of cooperative projects.

Requirements. In Grade 8, students enroll in Ancient & Classical Civilizations. In Grades 9-12, three years are required for graduation: Modern World History (Grade 9), United States History (Grade 10), and two semester-long departmental electives in either Grade 11 or 12.
  • Ancient & Classical Civilizations

    This course tackles tough questions: What is a civilization and what can we learn from different civilizations? How do societies organize, unify, and share beliefs? What are the connections between the long-distance past and the present? The first third of the course focuses on the development of world ancient civilizations, and introduces fundamental historical thinking skills. Students are introduced to these civilizations through a variety of techniques and skill-building activities, such as project-based learning, simulations, presentations, debates, analyzing primary documents, and other group work. The remainder of the course covers a period beginning with the rise of Rome and concluding with European contact in the Americas, pausing at key moments to compare the development in the world’s great civilizations, including China, India, and the Mayans. Students regularly reflect on why they are studying historical topics, and their relevance to today is explored. The course aims to teach students to draw connections, learn from the past, and, from this vantage, try to predict where current trends will lead to in the future.
  • Modern World History

    This course offers students opportunities to gain insight into the connection between significant historical events and today’s complex world by using primary sources and student-centered inquiry projects. Particular emphasis is placed on historical analysis and interpretation, using multiple historical perspectives to build their understanding of events. The first semester wrestles with the causes and impacts of the Western paradigm shifts of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, from the 15th to 19th centuries, emphasizing themes of exploration and revolution. The second semester tackles the 19th and 20th centuries, emphasizing transformations in industry, society, politics and the world order. Students examine African, Asian, and Latin American experiences of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and decolonization. Throughout the course, students build their historical thinking skills, paying close attention to historical comprehension, analysis, and interpretation. The course culminates in a research project and presentation, tracing the historical antecedents of a self-chosen current event. 
  • U.S. History

    This course develops a balanced and comprehensive understanding of United States history, addressing political, economic, social, and cultural U.S. History from the pre-Columbian period to the present. Beginning with a deep inquiry-based analysis of indigenous cultures, the class progresses through the United States’ political and social development as a colony, state, empire, and world power. Using discussion-based and inquiry-based approaches, the course provides students with the opportunity to expand their understanding of U.S. history. Students strengthen their historical thinking skills through practice in all forms of student literacy – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – and advancement of skills in note taking, research and analysis of primary and secondary sources, analytical writing, and public speaking.
  • U.S. History - YAS

    This course develops a balanced and comprehensive understanding of United States history, addressing political, economic, social, and cultural U.S. History from the pre-Columbian period to the present. Beginning with a deep inquiry-based analysis of indigenous cultures, the class progresses through the United States’ political and social development as a colony, state, empire, and world power. Using discussion-based and inquiry-based approaches, the course provides students with the opportunity to expand their understanding of U.S. history. Students strengthen their historical thinking skills through practice in all forms of student literacy – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – and advancement of skills in note taking, research and analysis of primary and secondary sources, analytical writing, and public speaking.
     
    In York Advanced Studies US History, students are offered opportunities to broaden and enrich their academic experience by way of additional readings and activities and more extensive projects and assessments. US History-YAS is designed for students who have a strong interest in history, and who are ready and willing to do the work necessary to dig deeply into the material.
  • Roman History

    This course tackles three primary questions about the over 2000 years of Roman history: What did Rome achieve? How did (and do) representative governments rise and fall? How did Rome cope with evolving crises for so long? This semester-long course will introduce students to major Roman historical events and crises: the rise and fall of the Republic, the Civil Wars, the establishment of empire and general peace, and the emergence of crises from the third to the fifth centuries and the empire’s response. Students will be expected to closely analyze and interpret primary sources and complete a research paper addressing one of the primary questions of the course.
  • U.S. Government and Politics

    This course is a one-semester introduction to the foundations, institutions, and processes of the government of the United States and its political systems. Students can expect to delve into the Constitution and its amendments, landmark supreme court cases, as well as current events to develop a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of governance and politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Special attention will be given to local, state, and federal elections if they happen to occur during the semester this course is run.
  • Debate

    Debate has long been the foundation of a healthy democracy. Yet, when public discourse is taken over by talking heads shouting talking points, we lose the ability to resolve controversy. In a debate round, the formal presentation of two sides of a topic is adjudicated by common sense citizens with shared values. Good debaters research all facets of a topic, collaborate effectively with teammates, present their ideas clearly and compellingly, think on the spot, and (perhaps most importantly) listen to their opponents. In this course, students will learn all these skills while covering a variety of contemporary topics, including policing in the 21st Century, environmental policy, and our nation’s involvement in foreign affairs. This course will prepare students to distinguish between solid and spurious arguments, making them keen competitors at the podium as well as informed citizens and practitioners of healthy discourse.
  • Asian History

    "Asian History: Challenges to Democracy in Asia" will look at the development, evolution, and challenges for democracies across Asia. Themes tackled will include defining and maintaining independence, challenges of integrating diverse and unique cultures, the impact of external forces and influences on maintaining democracy, governmental and non-governmental responses to internal and external crises. The course will focus on a selection of the following countries, depending on current events and student interest: India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Nepal and Bhutan, Hong Kong. The culminating project will result in a self-published class magazine.
  • World Religions

    What is religion? What is spirituality? How do religious traditions impact society? Throughout this course, students can expect to explore many of the world’s religious religions and engage with the big questions that they seek to ask and answer. The religious traditions explored throughout the term are Indigenous, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Chinese philosophical traditions. Through respectful engagement, we will learn to better understand the various functions of religion and look at how specific belief systems cultivate differing worldviews and cultures. By seeking to understand the views and beliefs of billions of religious practitioners, this course aims to promote compassion, religious literacy, and respect for humankind. Students will primarily do this work by engaging in careful reading and discussion of the world’s scriptures and through taking in a wide variety of perspectives from religious leaders, practitioners, and academic authorities.
  • Introduction to Psychology

    Introduction to Psychology is a survey course that aims to introduce the major content areas of the field of Psychology. The course covers theories, basic research methodologies, and current research in various subject areas. Additionally, students are challenged to articulate their understanding of foundational concepts and relate them to their own personal experiences. Upon completion of the course, students can expect to have an introductory understanding of key areas within psychology, including the historical origins of various psychology traditions, the complexities of consciousness, processes of
    learning and information processing, the intricacies of motivation and emotions, stages of human development, personality theories, the interplay between stress and health, therapeutic approaches, and psychopathology.
  • Economics

    How does economics touch our day-to-day lives? This big question guides the exploration of the history of economics, a close examination of current economic events and economic policy decision-making, and a practical start-up project. Beginning with a brief overview of the evolution of economic thought from the late 18th century until the modern era, the course’s emphasis is squarely placed on the philosophy and debates of modern micro and macroeconomics theory, utilizing case studies, debates, problem sets, and supplementary materials from economic policy makers, academics, lobbyists, and news media. Over the course of the semester, students will apply their theoretical understandings of economics to a start-up project, from a business proposal to the manufacture and sale of a good or service. The course goal is to provide the beginnings of a measured economic philosophy for the student, and a practical foundation for understanding the role of economics in our day-to-day lives.

Faculty

  • Photo of Michael Borrowman
    Michael Borrowman
    History; 9th Grade Dean
    Bio
  • Photo of Dan Gurska
    Dan Gurska
    History; 9th Grade Dean

York School

9501 York Road
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831-372-7338
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Since 1959, York School has created an exceptional college-prep experience for our youth: inspiring them to develop intellectual curiosity; challenging them to create and try new things; and preparing them to be passionate contributors in college and in life.