How can looking back prepare us for the future?
We are educating students for a world that is becoming ever more global and integrated. Looking ahead to our students’ futures, we want to offer an education that is culturally competent and thematically rich, engaging with the essential questions of the past and present. Through discussions, explorations of primary sources, research and projects, Middle School students at Ring Mountain Day School dig deep and bring history to life.
The History curriculum at Ring Mountain Day School follows a spiral. Beginning at the center with the self and family, each grade stretches outward to city, state and country. In sixth grade, our spiral widens again, this time to a global scale. Middle school history is a three-year sequence of world history, beginning with the ancient world in sixth grade and finishing eighth grade with social justice movements of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.
Whether building a working model of a Gutenberg press, or debating the ethics of the bombing of Hiroshima, students engage with relevant, compelling and diverse material to prepare them for the global challenges of the twenty-first century.
Sixth grade history focuses on the ancient world around the globe. Beginning with an exploration of human evolution and prehistoric technology, students examine the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one. The class moves on to explore ancient cultures, including topics such as Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient India, the Qin dynasty and Great Wall of China, and the Roman empire. Students explore history through primary sources, art and architecture, and hands-on projects, including projects such as model building, map-making, and simulations.
Seventh grade students continue their survey of world history by studying the medieval and early modern periods. The course begins with an overview of major world religions and their spread in the Middle Ages, including the Islamic Golden Age, the spread of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation. Turning towards the Renaissance, students explore the art, architecture, technology and philosophy of the period, culminating in a project on Elizabethan England, in preparation for the class trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As the early modern period takes hold, the class looks at the beginnings of globalization: exploration, colonization, and trade. The year concludes with a focus on the global scope of European colonies and trade, which can include Virginia, California, Brazil, Guanzhou, India and Haiti.
Eighth grade history concludes the world history sequence with a study of the modern world and the increasing pace of globalization. The year starts with a unit comparing 18th century revolutions in countries around the world, such as United States, France, Haiti, and Venezuela. The class moves on to explore how technology shaped major 19th century shifts in industry, transportation, urbanization, health, and warfare, which transitions into a study of World War I. Students learn about World War II and the Holocaust in concert with their reading of Maus in English class. Final projects allow the class to explore global social justice movements of the 20th century, such as the fight for independence in India, the American Civil Rights era, the fall of apartheid in South Africa and the Tiananmen Square protests.