9th Grade: World History
10th Grade: US History
11th & 12th Grade: Advanced Econ (SAS), Civics (SAS), Big History, Eurasia (SAS), Psychology (SAS), Positive Psychology, Civil War (SAS), Law, Religion and the American Jewish Community, US Gov't & Econ
World History/Jewish History (9th Grade Requirement)
World History at Shalhevet is an integrated program that weaves together themes common to both Jewish History and the History of Western Civilization.
The goal is to teach students fundamental skills applicable not only to the study of history but to any field they may someday choose to pursue. Students will work individually and in groups on both daily and longer-term assignments, ultimately combining acquired knowledge from Jewish History and Western Civilization History in two major integrated assessments – one in each semester.
An integrated program has much to offer students at a dual curriculum school:
* It demonstrates that the historical development of both American and Jewish values—the foundation of our students’ American Jewish identity – did not occur in isolation.
* It enables students to gain an understanding and appreciation of how different cultures operate by undertaking comparative analysis.
* It teaches and reinforces a set of historical thinking skills that are common to both courses—contextualization, causation, comparison, continuity and change, analyses of historical evidence (primary and secondary sources), and argumentation.
The Western Civilization component of the course covers Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, The Renaissance, The Protestant Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. The Jewish History component covers the Biblical period from the conquest of Canaan, the 2nd Temple period, the development of Rabbinic Judaism, medieval Jewry and Judaism in the Islamic lands and Ashkenaz Europe, popular Jewish movements in early modern Europe, and the Haskalah and Jewish emancipation.
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 affects 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. Robert Kennedy famously said that our GDP (gross domestic product), “measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” Using theory, current articles from the news and case studies, we will explore not only the history of economics, but how we assess worth and value in the modern world. Course topics will include issues of supply and demand, elasticity, the ideas of both public and common good, free trade (both from an economic and political point of view), the evolution 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 as well as instructor approval. Exceptions may be made for qualified students.
Advanced Psychology (SAS)
For all recorded history (and likely before) we have speculated about the things that contribute to how we think and behave. From its beginnings in the 19th century, psychology has also tried to answer these questions, but from a scientific perspective. As David Myers, author of our textbook, observes, psychologists require curiosity, skepticism, and humility combined with the ability to think critically: examining assumptions, perceiving hidden values, and evaluating evidence. SAS Psychology will introduce you to the multiple perspectives psychology has adopted, to the broad field of knowledge that its research has produced, and to the kind of critical analysis that made it possible as psychologists attempt to answer the basic questions of mind and behavior. 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.
This semester course is based on the ground-breaking Harvard University course by the same name, taught by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, currently of the Maytiv Center in Israel. Students in this course will gain an understanding of the academic field of positive psychology, which is the study of optimal human functioning. While the field of psychology has traditionally focused on fixing what is wrong by understanding the roots of human suffering, positive psychology concentrates on building what is right in people by scientifically studying strengths and values. This rapidly growing field represents the scientific study of what makes us happy, healthy, and content in our lives. Students will explore current research into the dimensions of happiness and subjective well-being, and acquire skills to implement positive-psychology-based concepts in one’s life. Assignments include readings, written reflections, quizzes, projects and research. Topics include happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, achievement, creativity, music, spirituality, and humor.
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 Connected (SAS)
What is globalization? Why are some people so upset about it while others see it as essential? How did we ever get so interconnected? To answer these and many other questions, we’ll step out of our Western and Jewish bubbles and explore the development and interconnectedness of the four major cultural areas of Eurasia (China, India, the Middle East, and Europe) from the devastating Mongol invasions of the 13th century through the 20th century and into the 21st . We’ll both uncover the forces, many coming out of Eurasia, that have steadily moved the world into globalization and provide a broader vision that will knit together much of what you’ve already learned in Jewish and general history. There will be no big, objective tests; rather there will be an emphasis on active involvement in discussion, which will be the primary way we learn, 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.
Civil War (SAS)
This course will examine the watershed event in American history: the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1860-1877. During this period, the questions left unanswered by the founding generation came to a head, and countrymen from the northern and southern United States fought against one another, died in great profusion, and ultimately pieced together a new nation from the fragments of war. Four years of bloody fighting and twelve years of continued political and social discord would determine what kind of a nation the United States would be. In this course, we will look closely at the sectional strife that led to southern secession and armed conflict; we will follow the military narrative while simultaneously focusing on the political, social, and economic issues of two democratic republics at war. We will survey the political landscape of the Reconstruction period in the north and south as well as emphasize the experience of former slaves, underscoring the meaning of freedom. In the end we will consider not only what the Civil War and Reconstruction did accomplish, but also what they did not.
Law, Religion and the American Jewish Community
In an age of ever-growing religious diversity, the United States is confronting a host of complex questions regarding conflicts between law and religion. The primary goal of this course is to evaluate how the American Jewish community should approach the role and of religion in both the U.S. and Jewish legal systems. Beginning with the role of religion in the U.S. legal system, the course requires students to evaluate and develop a uniquely Jewish approach to the proper constitutional role of religion in the United States. Turning then to the Jewish legal system, the course requires students to similarly evaluate and interrogate the Jewish law approach to the halachic system of beis din (rabbinical court) adjudication. By considering the two alongside each other, students can compare the respective roles of religion within parallel legal systems. In turn, students will better be able to consider how their own Jewish faith informs law in the 21st century.
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.
SAS Civics is a new course being offered at Shalhevet for 12th graders. Civics is the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. In this course, we will break down both elements (rights & responsibilities) through specific activities aimed at solving much needed problems in America. The “Advanced Study” element comes into play with a significant reading load as well as additional media analysis from specifically chosen podcasts, videos, and various other platforms. We will study ideas that range from ancient philosophers to modern-day college professors to highlight the overlapping themes of how to view your place within a society. This is a class focused on being an active, contributing member of society where you accept the burden of improving the nation. Prerequisite: A in US History, A- or better in a Junior-year SAS history course, OR instructor approval.