The history curriculum at Lawrence Academy strives to have the students do the intellectual work of historians. We want to prepare our students to be active citizens in a global society. We want our students to frame questions and then use information to make interpretations that answer those questions in a way that helps us understand the past and says something about the human condition. The activities in our classes stress the development of critical thinking skills, the ability to develop an articulate argument and write an effective analytical essay, the ability to read and understand primary source documents and research skills and to discern the multiple factors and points of view surrounding significant moments and themes associated with human progress. We also emphasize the use of technology in our classes. We want students to take responsibility for their education and strive to determine the meaning of important ideas and questions for themselves.
At Lawrence Academy, students learn that history is not a spectator sport. Teachers use a variety of techniques and activities to encourage students to be active learners. The department emphasizes depth over breadth and we strive to broaden the horizons of our students by the content we choose for our classes. Whatever the method and subject, we push students to ask questions, research primary sources, formulate a position and then support their conclusions with evidence. Increasingly, technology is integrated into the classroom as a tool to gain greater access to diverse material and sources and present their ideas and projects creatively.
The Lawrence Academy history department emphasizes inquiry and simulation as a foundation for our units and lessons. Through collaboration and interactivity, students experience, in a classroom setting, the history which they investigate, study and learn. For example, we ask students to find the best evidence to defend or prosecute Napoleon, and in U.S. History students may debate whether America should have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan or determine how to address the issue of slavery in their own Constitutional Convention as a delegate from South Carolina. Exploring history means understanding how people reacted to their circumstances or dared to reshape them. Reading about the horrors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is one thing; using primary source evidence to defend or criticize President Truman’s decision to drop the A-bombs is another which requires taking a hard look at the evidence and developing a case. Ultimately, students will be asked to hone their analytical writing skills as they argue their positions in a paper, as if they were practicing historians.