Redesigning English and history courses

Raina Kasera, Staff Writer

With the 2015-2016 school year coming to a close, course signups for next year are well underway. There are many changes coming to the English and History departments.

“There will be both a restructuring and redesigning of English IX and English X and a few new electives,” said Head of the English Department Karen Latham. English IX will be changed to reflect an interdisciplinary course, and will focus on global literature. English X will also be adapted to encompass more of American literature. Dr. Latham believes that these changes will help create a curriculum “that picks up, echoes, and reinforces work students are doing in other disciplines, so that they leave ninth grade or tenth grade with all of these threads [from different subjects] coming together and making sense.”

The English Department will also be adding new elective choices for juniors and seniors. One of these is the “Marriage Plot” and discusses romance and marriage in American and British literature. Another new elective is called “Detective Fiction.” Dr. Latham herself plans on introducing “Superheroes, Super-villains.” In this course, she will utilize various mediums, such as film, comics, and current events. The class will “look at the ways in which the idea of heroes and villains has changed in our culture,” said Dr. Latham. She continued that the main goal of these various new electives is to keep courses interesting for students and “to allow teachers to teach [the] subjects and texts that they are passionate about.”

Another big change next year will affect freshman history classes. All freshmen will now be required to take “The Search for Self,” a new course that fulfills the religion requirement and replaces the past freshman history courses, “Sacred Traditions,” “Bible,” and “World Studies.” “The first half [of the course] will be a comparative religion class and the second half will look at those religions as they come into contact with each other, through history utilizing case studies,” said Head of the History Department Howie Powers. Why this change? Mr. Powers said that the History Department, along with Head of Upper School Jason Robinson, wanted a “unifying course” for all freshmen that allowed for a connection with English courses. By providing an early religion course, they also hope that students will be able to apply their knowledge of different religions all throughout Upper School.

Additionally, three new history elective courses will be offered to juniors and seniors next school year. One of these, “Energy, Society, and Justice,” will link history and science and will explore and focus on energy use and its societal effects. AP Human Geography will look at cultural, political, economic, and environmental development, through a geographic lens and an environmental perspective. This course emphasizes Princeton Day School’s objectives of environmental sustainability and community service. Philosophy will also be a new course and will be taught from a global perspective.

Overall, many teachers and administrators at PDS hope that the additions and changes will lead to a better academic experience for students and are excitedly awaiting the start of these new courses.