The history curriculum at Rock Point School focuses on encouraging students to see the broader context for not only the world we live in but also their own lives. In addition to learning about historical events and parts of the world (both near and far), students learn core academic skills through the history curriculum, from organizational skills to developing competency in oral and written expression skills. There is a strong emphasis on “how to be a student.” In the freshman and sophomore years, there is a focus on foundational skills, and, in the junior and senior years, the focus is on college preparatory skills, including a structured essay-writing curriculum that helps students become more confident essay writers. The history curriculum has a strong place-based educational component, and it also includes four unique opportunities for experiential learning and the development of leadership skills––through attending local-government planning events, and participation in a maple sugaring program, an apiary program, and a local farm-to-school program. Connected to the history program is also a cultural enrichment program, where students attend local theater performances by groups from around the world, with opportunities to learn about the historical backgrounds of the performers and performances.
Drawing on both myths and history, we look at ancient civilizations and the themes inherent in the development of civilizations, societies, and individuals. We examine historical and cross-cultural influences, finding links between ancient history and the world we in which we currently live and continue to create. It is not so easy to travel to Athens to see the Parthenon, but we can visit the Follett House in downtown Burlington and see an example of a Greek Revival home built by an industrialist who was involved in the railroad that ran through Vermont during the late 19th century.
Through the study of the remarkable civilization of China, the rich and often troubled history of Africa, and the history surrounding us in Vermont, we look at how cultures, societies, and governments develop and evolve. Students learn how concrete elements such as topography, geography, weather, and technological developments create and shape societies. As with Ancient Studies, Vermont is a laboratory for looking at the themes and lessons of the curriculum. We examine how cultures and economies evolve in relationship to both concrete elements and unfolding historical events.
U.S. History 1
U.S. History 1 begins with foundational study of the Constitution and how the document that governs our country was created, negotiated, and amended in order to meet competing philosophical, economic, and social concerns, by a group of people who were knowledgeable about the history of governing forms and who had visions of trying to create something viable and flexible. Studying the Constitution becomes a lens through which to look at a variety of other aspects of our country’s development, including westward expansion, statehood and the development of state constitutions, citizens’ rights and responsibilities, government rights and responsibilities, the tension and cooperation between federal and state government, our country’s Civil War, and the civil rights movement that followed that conflict.
U.S. History 2
U.S. History 2 expands on U.S. History 1, but is a stand-alone course. We start with a brief review of the Constitution and then begin to look at why and how it has been amended through the years. We focus on the complexity of these amendments and their application in the world. It’s one thing to have a document that outlines rights and responsibilities; it’s another thing to implement them nationwide, in areas that are vastly cultural, socially, and economically varied. We examine court cases whose decisions changed how our nation interacts and continue to shape our lives, as they are implemented and challenged in new ways.