Academics
Academic Program

History

Our philosophy

History teachers at Falmouth Academy aim to produce students who are curious about investigating the past, cautious about the information they receive that gives them their picture of the past, and skilled in shaping that information clearly and effectively. Students become increasingly proficient at thoughtful inquiry, clear and precise writing, and poised presenting.

The history curriculum at Falmouth Academy is both broad and deep. The six-year program begins and ends with the study of world cultures in Grades 7 and 12, examines the history of the United States in Grades 8 and 11, and focuses on a two-year study of Western civilization in Grades 9 and 10. Within this curriculum, students share a series of experiences—lively discussions, debates, presentations to each other, guest speakers and trips—while also exploring their own particular interests through research projects. In their senior year, students may add an extra course, rhetoric, which extends the students’ work with language, presentation skills and issues of government, public policy and media.

Course descriptions

List of 6 items.

  • An Introduction to Humanities

    This humanities course challenges 7th graders to become better listeners, speakers, readers, thinkers, and writers through their study of the major cultures of the Middle East, China, India, and ancient Greece.

    The course emphasizes geography, religion, and philosophy. Students learn basic geographic vocabulary and explore the Asian continent. By working with various kinds of maps, they learn the relationship between topography, land use, and population. Research projects are structured through the geography curriculum. The course begins in ancient China where students explore the hierarchy of the Confucian family and the dualism of yin and yang through Taoist thought. Moving to India, they compare the Hindu caste system with the American class system and struggle to understand the asceticism of Hinduism. Students enjoy learning to meditate and thinking about the Middle Way of Buddhism as they attempt to find balance in their own lives. As we continue on to the Middle East, students learn the origin of the monotheistic religions of Islam and Christianity and how they are connected to Judaism. The course ends with an introduction to the philosophers of ancient Greece and emphasis is placed on students' active engagement in developing values for themselves. Classes incorporate Arts-Across-the-Curriculum projects in art and music and course content is coordinated with the literature read in English 7.
  • American Civics

    U.S. History places a strong emphasis on the development of key skills while fostering engagement with current issues and an understanding of American history from colonial/revolutionary times through the reconstruction period. Particularly noteworthy aspects of the history curriculum are its emphasis on the Constitution and U.S. government, its concentration on early American figures, and the qualities that enabled them to be effective leaders. The course examines the causes and outcomes of 18th and 19th-century North American wars.

    Students are encouraged to be inquisitive, to ask questions, and be involved in daily discussions. The basis for these conversations often begins with active reading and “dissecting” and “marking up” passages in order to comprehend arguments and recognize the structures inherent in strong paragraphs and essays. Students also review elements of a “focus” paragraph and learn how to write analytical essays. They receive a good deal of coaching, practice, and feedback on their writing and they have numerous opportunities to do research, make presentations and participate in debates. During the 8th-grade year, students generally make considerable progress in reading with understanding and in communicating more effectively both in their writing and speaking.
  • Changing Earth

    The Earth has changed over the course of millions of years. Humans have been on Earth for a small portion of its history. Throughout this course, we will examine how Earth has changed humans and how humans have changed the Earth. Our primary focus will be on ancient civilizations and the groundwork they laid for modern society. Throughout this course, we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various civilizations. In each unit, we will focus on a particular theme, which humans have developed and expanded upon. Within each unit, we will make connections to the present. We will work in tandem with the science and English courses to create a collaborative environment.
  • The Impact of the Modern West

    Students in this course explore modern European history. Most appropriately for our times, the central lens of the course focuses on the extensive ways in which the ideas, culture, and history of the West have shaped and influenced the modern world, for better and for worse.  Topics include the decline of church authority, the rise of centralized monarchies, the growth of constitutionalism, the rise of classical liberalism and its consequences, the power and impact of nationalism, the emergence of capitalism, the challenge of communism, and the practice and legacy of colonialism. 

    The course places a special emphasis on exposing students to the works of the significant thinkers who have most influenced the development of Western thought and provided the philosophical underpinnings of our modern world. Lively discussions and written assignments engage students and develop their speaking and expository writing skills.  In the third trimester, students assume the role of historians with work on a major research project.  After researching a topic of his/her choosing, each student demonstrates his/her learning at an oral exam; the project culminates with an expository research paper in which students argue their conclusions.
  • Perspectives of the American Experiment

    In United States history, 11th graders examine political, economic, social, and intellectual development from the 1700s to the present. They regularly use primary and secondary sources, both literary and visual, to add depth to their understanding of each period.

    Students sharpen their reading, writing, speaking, and thinking skills, especially through the strong emphasis on analyzing arguments, in general, and historical interpretations, in particular, with a careful eye to assessing the reliability of sources. Students also learn to apply intellectual frameworks to analyze leadership and to judge accountability for key decisions, and they examine art from four periods of U.S. history in order to explore the changing philosophical and aesthetic contexts. Students hone their research, writing, and presentation skills through a fall project focused on Supreme Court cases related to the Bill of Rights and a spring assignment emphasizing Cold War episodes
  • World Cultures/Geopolitics

    After completing five history courses prior to 12th grade, students are ready to engage each other and the world in an unconventional way through their World Cultures course. Acting in the role of “Assistant Secretaries of State," students adopt the role of a Department of State official representing one of six of the major regional assistant secretaries. Students rotate roles every six weeks or half-trimester so that they encounter cultural problems and issues from each of the State Department regions throughout the course of the year.

    In their role as “Assistant Secretary,” students track current cultural issues from around the globe, and research pressing cultural trends within their assigned region that relate to issues such as urbanization, religious devotion, patriarchy, and migration, among a host of other concerns, and acquire specialized knowledge in the study of one of these controversies for which they will develop a major presentation every six weeks. Students consult news and academic journals and government agency and non-governmental organization reports to facilitate their analysis.

    Students use The Economist magazine as a weekly source to follow global current events and also access print and online sources in their quest to investigate, ruminate, communicate, and create. As part of a team with representatives drawn from each of the sections of World Cultures, students will interact in person and online and will formulate strategies for confronting everyday events and crises. Every day, students will be ready to provide briefings for their fellow regional undersecretaries. As part of a team, each student contributes to regional blog essays that will analyze various cultural controversies and develop annotated bibliographies that will inform the public about sources crucial to understanding evolving controversies. At the end of the course, students will have a broader and deeper understanding of the world and its cultures, and be ready to take well-honed academic skills to college and beyond.

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Rob Wells

    Rob Wells 

    History Department Chair
  • Photo of Matt Barnes

    Matt Barnes 

    History & SSJ Advisor
  • Photo of Patrick Kennedy

    Patrick Kennedy 

    Athletic Director/History
  • Photo of Suzanne Caruso

    Suzanne Caruso 

    History
© Falmouth Academy. All Rights Reserved.