History and Humanities Electives
Understanding the past helps to prepare us for the future. History classes at York aim to develop each student’s appreciation for and understanding of the past and its impact on the present. At every grade level, students use primary and secondary sources accessed through the school library and internet archives to research significant historical issues and events. Innovative assignments challenge students to recreate historical eras through a variety of cooperative projects. In each of the history classes, for example, students work in small groups to bring history to life, creating plays, movies, or PowerPoint presentations to illustrate a topic for the whole class.
The study of world geography broadens our students’ understanding of global perspectives, world cultures, and historical interactions and conflicts, creating citizens who are more aware of the world and their place in it.
The purpose of 8th grade Ancient History is to ensure that students understand how and why civilisations evolved and how, like the Mayans, they could be abandoned. Students look at history as a science and evaluate like a detective with clues from written sources, archaeology, and anthropology. Students learn to understand the connection of events, the impact of cause and effect; they see the relevance of each topic today and what we can learn from the past. We foster a life long interest in the subject by making it real through stories, plays, and hands-on assignments.
The goals of this course are to provide an understanding of the past and comprehend the origin of issues today, such as separation of church and state or why the Arabs get upset by the word Crusade. Students will understand where historical information comes from and look for clues to determine biases, what is omitted, and what is true. This course makes history real and develops in students a lifelong passion and interest in the subject. In Geography, students learn where places are, where products come from, to appreciate different cultures and perspectives, and to understand and foster an interest in current events.
Students gain insight into the connection between significant historical events and today’s complex world by using lectures, primary and secondary sources, videos, student-centered projects, and discussion of current events in a historic context. Particular emphasis is placed on historical analysis and interpretation. The course uses IDs and essay exams, student projects, and class discussion as a major means of assessing student performance. An analytical essay is also completed in the spring. The first semester covers the 15th to 19th centuries, emphasizing European transformations through the Age of Exploration, the Protestant Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment; the reunification of Japan; and the Russian Empire. The second semester covers the 19th and 20th centuries, emphasizing the American and French Revolutions, the industrial revolution, the decline of land empires, the rise of nationalism and imperialism, World War I, Communism in the Soviet Union and China, World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War.
This course covers the major political, economic, social, diplomatic, and cultural history of the United States from the founding of the colonies to the present. The principal reading is drawn from both primary and secondary sources, and incorporates lectures, films, and songs. It follows a chronological path and focus on major recurring themes including economic transformations, reform, war and diplomacy, and national identity. Particular emphasis is placed on developing historical analysis and interpretation skills. Essay exams and a research paper are used to improve writing ability and assess student work.
This course exposes students who are about to vote and go out into the world to events in a continent that has more than half of the World’s population. The goal is to make students aware of different points of view and see history from an alternate vantage. Events in the news today are analyzed to show the relevance of the situation and then are traced back in a country’s history to bring events up to the current day. Students give weekly reports about recent events in the country of their choice, keeping them abreast of trends and helping to improve their public speaking. Research using online daily newspapers from around the world and blogs is required.
The course is taught by two teachers, exposing students to two very different teaching styles and allowing the teachers to focus on their particular interests. The first semester covers the geographic background and impact of communism across Asia, with special focus on Russia, China and Tibet, North Korea, and Cambodia. The crises and conflict in the Middle East and Central Asia, with emphasis on Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, is also covered. The second semester examines the emergence of democracies across Asia, with a focus on Turkey, India, Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar), and Indonesia, and concluding with an in-depth study of Japan.
Students are introduced to the history of economics and trace the evolution of economic thought from the late 18th century until the modern era. Emphasis is placed on the foundations, philosophy, and debates of macroeconomic theory, and the vocabulary and concepts of modern micro and macro economics, utilizing case studies and supplementary materials from websites, films, newspapers, magazines, journals, class discussions, and debates. The course goal is to provide the beginnings of a measured economic philosophy for the student. Open to students in 11th and 12th grades.
This course provides an analysis and understanding of American government and politics, with the particular goal of preparing students to take the AP exam in U.S. Government and Politics. It examines the framework and traditions that have shaped American politics, and explores how public policy gets made today, including the nature and influence of political parties, special interest groups, the media (new and old), and government institutions. At semester’s end students will have developed a critical, across the board understanding of American politics, with an appreciation for the nature of individual rights and responsibilities. Mirroring a college-level course, students will read primary source documents, full-length works, newspapers and magazines, blogs and other online resources, and data such as polls and statistical analysis. The classroom format features lecture, discussion (including a regular discussion of current events), quizzes, and tests; out-of-class writing assignments include critical analysis and data interpretation.
Students trace the evolution of scientific understanding of human behavior and mental processes. Emphasis is placed on becoming familiar with the foundations of significant psychological perspectives: behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, humanistic, developmental, evolutionary, neurobiological, and sociocultural. Students supplement their understanding of central ideas by reading primary source materials and case studies, modeling the scientific methods of experimentation, and participating in research projects, presentations, and class discussions.