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9th Grade: World History

10th Grade: US History

11th & 12th Grade: Advanced Econ (SAS), Big History, Eurasia (SAS), Psychology (SAS), US Gov't & Econ


World History (9th Grade Requirement)

Though labeled “World History”, this course is more akin to a “Western Civilization” survey course. The reasons are straightforward: 1. A dual curriculum compels us to consider time constraints. 2. Regardless, students ought to be prepared to understand the historical context of the conditions that eventually gave birth to the founding of the United States: the strongest influences in the white settlement of North America were all European. Hence the in-depth coverage of the following topics:

Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Early Medieval Europe, Late Medieval Europe, Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment.


This course aims to achieve the following objectives:


  1. introduce students to a way of studying History that will help prepare them not merely to succeed in this course but in all disciplines.
  2. teach students how to read critically and analytically.
  3. teach students how to write a scholarly essay that responds to a prompt directly, concisely and, through the use of appropriate evidence, convincingly.
  4. teach students how to watch a video critically.
  5. teach students study skills, such as note-taking, critical reading, and organization of material.
  6. encourage students to speak up and to participate in moral dilemma discussions, which, though rooted in historical events, explore universal human themes, too.
  7. and, through the use of in-class activities [daily] and group projects [usually one per quarter], teach students how to exploit and hone a wide range of talents, as well as how to work in a group.


U.S. History (10th Grade Requirement)

The course is dedicated to teaching the students the history of this great republic. The content of course will start from the age of the explorers through the Civil War in the first semester, and then, go from the Reconstruction period to the Cold War in the second. The course will trace how the U.S. became a modern nation. In an effort to make the class more relevant and interesting for the students, there will be times where we will occasionally go out of chronological order and examine events that are current so that the students can see and grasp for themselves how our history effects us today and how it is all around us all the time. There will be an emphasis on the skills the students need to possess in order to master and appreciate history such as source evaluation, the relationship and impact of cause and effect. The methodology used will be comprised of reading, lecture, debate, and role play.


Advanced Economics (SAS)

Individuals and societies have explored and confronted the questions of how to assess value for centuries. We’ve gotten it wrong many times - from tulip mania in the 1600’s to the mortgage crisis less than a decade ago. Understanding what went wrong can help us foresee similar scenarios while they are still unfolding. Using theory and case studies, we will explore not only the history of economics and credit, but how we assess worth and value in the modern world. Course topics will include issues of supply and demand, the ideas of both public and common good, the evolution of corporations and tax systems as well as basic personal financial management. Pre-requisite: Minimum of B+ in both semesters of previous year’s Social Studies and Math courses. Exceptions may be made for qualified students.


Advanced Psychology (SAS)

SAS Psychology will be a survey course of college-level introductory psychology, drawing on much of the AP Psychology curriculum, but modified to better suit the goals and culture of our school and to allow more in-depth learning and the development of writing and analytic skills at a more educationally sound pace. We will explore the multiple research perspectives of psychology (biological, developmental, cognitive, personality, and social), areas of applied psychology (clinical and industrial), as well as the scientific methodology (research methods) that distinguishes modern psychology from past speculation on questions of human thought and behavior. The essential questions that we will ask throughout the year are: What is the source of human knowledge? What is the relationship between the mind (consciousness, soul) and the body? Is it possible to study questions of the human mind and behavior scientifically? What is the relative influence of our disposition versus our situation on our behavior and choices? How can we distinguish normal thought and behavior from abnormal thought and behavior? By the end of the year students should be able to understand and articulate the primary tenets of the different perspectives and their significant research findings, to evaluate research studies for methodology, rigor, and significance, and to apply both the knowledge and analytic skills to the big questions and controversies of the field. Pre-requisite: Minimum of B+ in both semesters of previous year’s Social Studies and English courses as well as Biology. Exceptions may be made for qualified students.


Big History

The Big History class challenges students to think critically and broadly, and tries to ignite a passion for inquiry and exploration. In addition to helping students master the sequence and scope of 13.8 billion years, the course focuses on three essential skills: thinking across scale, integrating multiple disciplines, and making and testing claims. Big History links different areas of knowledge into one unified story. It’s a framework for learning about anything and everything. This unified story provides students with a deeper awareness of our past, hopefully better preparing them to help shape the future of our fragile planet. By giving students tools to incite exploration and connect knowledge, the aim is to develop key critical thinking skills that can prove vital in any discipline they decide to follow in their academic/professional lives. Big History is a true history course. It weaves concepts and themes from chemistry, physics and biology, to help students understand a historical narrative and ultimately human civilizations past, present and future. For an overview, see David Christian’s TED Talk entitled The History of the World in 18 minutes. No pre-requisite required.


Eurasia (SAS)

This course will explore the development and interconnectedness of the four major cultural areas of Eurasia (China, India, the Middle East, and Europe) from the destabilizing Mongol invasions of the 13th century through the 20th century. After analyzing the consequences of the Mongol invasion, the course will focus on renewed contact, commerce, colonization, and the regrowth of cultures, shifting world orders and alternate visions, the 18th and 19th century emergence of nations and empires, mass politics, World War I and new visions of the future, the 20th century development of a three world order, and globalization. There will be an emphasis on creative engagement with the material and on written and oral assessments. Pre-requisite: Minimum of B+ in both semesters of previous year’s Social Studies and English and instructor approval.


US Government & Economics

“The economy, stupid!” was a slogan coined in 1992 as a way to push for political change and predict the successful campaign for Bill Clinton. The American system of government is very closely related to the American economy and this course blends them together and teaches both aspects simultaneously. Offered to the upperclassmen of Shalhevet, this class will cover the structure of our political and economic systems while focusing on a particular area of interest (an American issue) for each individual student in the class. Starting with a close examination of the foundational components of the American political system, students will study how this system has evolved over the last roughly 250 years. We will investigate historically relevant (and controversial) Supreme Court cases, the balance between government intervention and individual freedom, and how extreme partisanship has influenced the functionality of the government today all while keeping an overarching theme of the role economics plays in the system. This course aims to create a safe yet challenging environment in which students can explore/defend their personal views, but also demands that they understand and listen to opposing opinion. This issue will be a continuous theme throughout the year for each unit of study. During the second semester, the focus will shift to focus on economic principles and how government interaction plays a major role in various systems, businesses, and ideas. No pre-requisite required.