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In the Works: Restructuring the English and History Departments

An important project is taking shape on the third floor of Gideon Frost Hall. Spearheaded by Christine Kulke and Elizabeth Phillips, respective heads of the History and English Departments, the initiative calls for a more globally-focused and interdisciplinary curriculum. This means that future English and History classes will cover the same topics at the same times with a broader perspective. Collaborative teaching will be encouraged, as will projects that apply to both subjects at once. For example, if a History class is learning about the period of the 1920s in American society, an English class will read and discuss literary works of the same era. The goal is to create an environment where students can make connections between the material of both disciplines, ultimately giving them a better understanding of what they are learning.

Mrs. Kulke is very enthusiastic about the progress thus far, and describes her and Doc Phillips’ ideas as coming together very naturally. “At my old school (in California), there was just one ‘Humanities’ Department,” recalls Mrs. Kulke. English and History were taught as one combined subject, an interesting concept that may be hard to envision at a traditional school like Friends. However, both teachers are optimistic about the time frame of their proposal, and hope to complete step one by next fall: The introduction of a more global, more accessible History textbook for freshmen and sophomores. Realistically, a full shift of the curriculum in this direction will take several years to complete. While current juniors may be too late to benefit from some of the changes taking place, they may notice a few of the new developments as seniors. Assuming that all goes well, current underclassmen will be the first to experience the implementation of some very high-level educational concepts.

One Comment

  1. Doc Phillips January 14, 2013

    Thank you, Brittany, for introducing our initiative to the community. We are very excited about this work and will be rolling out a new 10th grade English course to the Upper School in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

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