Emma Willard School students do the historian’s work of analyzing primary sources and creating interpretive conclusions.
Students adventurously seek out what the cultures of particular time periods reveal about a given era. Students take walking tours to scour the streets of Troy for clues from Victorian society, reading the cityscape as a document while looking for gender elements in the architecture. They read history books and then Skype with the author to discuss her work and ask questions. Students also have created Facebook pages for Roman emperors detailing what posts a despot makes to his friends. For intellectually curious Emma Girls, the world is full of stories waiting to be uncovered.
In history classes at the Emma, students travel around the world and back by the end of 10th grade with a two-year study of world history.
In the first semester of 9th grade and the last semester of 10th grade, students study Classical Mediterranean and Contemporary World History respectively, with electives in between. Students can study women’s collectives in Latin American, Asian dynasties and African dances and languages up close.
This approach allows girls to be true students of events and culture as they stop and examine one area at a time. In this way they avoid quick jumps from one event to another within each time period and the rote memorization of dates on a flat timeline. Students learn key cultural literacy points in the eras they study, then take off with curiosity to explore from there. By the end of 10th grade, each has a specialty in two areas of the world, allowing students to teach one another the specifics of their electives in the last semester.
American History and Government
What roles have race, gender and class played in the lives and perceptions of the American people? How have factors such as economics, ideology, law and religious faith interacted in shaping the country’s history? Students spend significant time reading secondary and primary documents closely and critically, cultivating the ability to express ideas clearly and with sufficient factual evidence to be persuasive.
Students also study the foundations of American government, including the Constitution and federalism; major governmental institutions, including the bureaucracy as well the executive, legislative and judicial branches; the political process, including political parties, campaigns, interest groups, and mass media; and the policymaking process. Class discussions focus on illustrating information and concepts through current political issues.
Students study economics and think about these questions: Why do we exchange goods? How do businesses make decisions about pricing products? When should the government intervene in the market, and when should it stay out of the way?