Within the larger context of our liberal arts approach to education at Episcopal, the history curriculum is designed to both inform students with a better understanding of our common past and contemporary world, while also emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills that are at the heart of an informed and active citizenry. As such, the curriculum is structured so as to educate and challenge students in a spiraling and developmentally appropriate manner as they progress through the sequential phases of an Episcopal education.
We are devoted practitioners of the Harkness Method at Episcopal, and as such we approach the study of history in a learner-centered and analytical manner. Such an approach emphasizes individual understanding, engagement, and advocacy. This effort begins in both of our Lower Schools at the Beaches and St. Mark’s campuses. As part of the social studies component of the curriculum on both campuses, young learners are initiated into the process of historical inquiry in a project-based and interdisciplinary manner that focuses in large part on community at the local, state and national levels inclusive of the local history of Jacksonville and Florida more broadly. Students also learn American history, geography, economics, and government. Throughout, students are provided with and supported to utilize skills such as reading comprehension, analysis of sources, and the articulation of individual viewpoints in both verbal and written formats.
The Middle School history curriculum carries this work forward while moving from a broader social studies approach into a series of focused historical survey courses: sixth grade studies world history; the seventh-grade Geography course provides an overview of the world and eighth graders learn about the early history of the United States – from the country’s founding through the Civil War/Reconstruction era, with an emphasis on citizenship and civics. As students extend their understanding of the modern world and the early history of this nation, they also are challenged to think, write, and speak in a progressively more analytical fashion.
The history curriculum at Episcopal carries into and culminates with a study of world history from the Classical Era through the 20th century during the freshman and sophomore years, finishing with a focused survey of US History since the Reconstruction Era during the junior year. True to the Harkness Method and the historical discipline, a seminar-based approach in these Upper School courses enables students to both exercise and expand their skills in synthesis, analysis, and individual expression. Students will also be heavily involved in interpreting history through documents, engaging in discussions, and articulating their own critical conclusions through both spoken and written mediums. Likewise, students are steadily afforded more self-choice in the direction they take their historical studies in the Upper School - whether through the different thematically based courses of second-semester US History concerning topics such as Civil Rights and Identity, or through the selection of a host of Advanced Placement and elective offerings available from the sophomore year onward.