Academics - Curriculum » Humanities


American History (9th-10th grade two-year course)

American History A and B is a mixed-cohort, two-year cycle that asks students to become historians. Students ask why and how historical change happens over time and learn how to find sources that answer these questions, evaluate those sources (in both their content and their bias), construct an argument that is rooted in the evidence they find, and articulate their argument through verbal and written critical analysis. While these stronger academic skills are one goal the course also embraces a Montessori-based practice to encourage work with the heart, hands, and head while building empathy for those people who lived before us.

Throughout the course, students investigate a number of central themes: political, social, and technological revolutions, rights movements, the movement of peoples, and war and foreign policy. As they master themes and concepts, students also gain a strong grasp of timelines and historical turning points, which in turn shines a light on the nature of cause and effect in historical events. Students are assessed by a number of methods; special attention is given to developing strong academic writing skills, along with the sophisticated reading comprehension skills necessary to work with primary texts.

IB World History HL

IB World History explores the history of the Middle East and Africa after 1914, as well as conflicts and intervention, authoritarian states, and independence movements in the modern world. In this class students will work on the following historical skills: respecting the humanity of all those who have lived through trying to understand their world on their terms; accepting the vast number of historical narratives that can and do exist while rejecting that there is one “truth” of history; at the same time trying to make sense of how and why changes (big and small) have happened over time; being comfortable with not knowing; being resilient in the face of setback; asking historical questions (how and why does change happen over time?); finding and identifying varied sources to help answer those questions; close-reading and analyzing those sources; combining multiple sources to answer a question; articulating those answers as arguments in verbal, written, and other formats; and understanding what other historians have said about question/topics like students’ questions and articulating how students’ arguments relate to/expand on/contradict those historians’ arguments.
IB Philosophy HL

The primary emphasis of this course is actually “doing philosophy” – actively engaging students in philosophical activity. The course is focused on stimulating students’ intellectual curiosity and encouraging them to examine both their own perspectives and those of others. Students will be challenged to develop their own philosophical voice and to grow into independent thinkers. The core theme of the course is “Being Human,” which provides an opportunity to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human. This exploration takes place through a discussion of key concepts such as identity, freedom, and human nature, and through a consideration of questions such as what sets humans apart from other species, where the boundaries of being human lie, and whether animals or machines could be considered persons. Students also develop their skills through the study of specific areas of philosophy, such as the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science. Students will also learn to apply their philosophical knowledge and skills to real-life situations and to explore how non-philosophical material can be treated in a philosophical way.
*Please note that besides the IB History and Philosophy courses, only two/three of the other 11th -12th grade Humanities courses will be offered next year based on student interest and course enrollment.**
Civics, Equity, and Social Justice (11th-12th grade course)

How do we build communities where everyone belongs, despite our differences? How can we affect positive change within our own communities? In this class, we’ll study how communities – big and small, near and far – have tried to do this. By the end of the year, we’ll have thought deeply about ourselves, our personal history, Chicago history, US/Global examples of change movements, empathy, and conflict resolution. We’ll also learn how to do data collection and statistical analysis; how to do a power analysis; and, most importantly, how to build a community across and through differences. This class is open to 10th -12th graders.
Advanced Topics in Civics, Equity, and Social Justice (11th-12th grade course)
For students who have already completed the Civics, Equity, and Social Justice course, this course will apply what they learned in their first year of study to becoming leaders within the Beacon Community. First, they will serve as mentors to the first year students in the Civics, Equity, and Social Justice course. Second, they will create an Individual Learning Plan (with faculty support) for a project that will: use what they learned in year one about building strong communities and solidarity to collaborate with Beacon students, faculty, and administration to effect positive change within the Beacon community. At the end of the year, students will create a report to share the results of their project, what they have learned about Beacon, and suggestions for future projects. They will submit this report to faculty and senior administrators. This class is open to 11th -12th graders.