A few days ago I wrote a lengthy post about our curriculum changes in the upper school;  a day after, our student newspaper was published, which included two articles about those changes it is my pleasure to share here.

Jafe Arnold wrote this piece:

Historic Changes Set for History Department

The 2010-2011 school year is nearing its last breaths of existence, and rumors fill the air of new curriculum changes that could drastically alter the way education here at St. Gregory works.  Mr. Martin, when referring to these changes, said that the idea is to “make freshman and sophomore years more of a foundational education for junior and senior years, in which students will and pursue narrower topics in greater depth.  Depth over breath is what we want.”  But, what exactly are these changes that are directed toward the history department, the department facing extensive reorganization?

After talking with Ms. Heintz and Mr. Martin, it’s been made clear that most of the specifics about the history department altercations are decided, and have been concluded off of a basis for improving students’ history education based upon what a teacher’s expertise is, and what the students want to learn about.

Instead of year-long classes, new semester-length classes are being designed to focus on various specifics within a certain historical category. Several options for these classes will be available. For example, with Doctor Berry, students will most likely have the choice to take either a yearlong AP class, or the semester seminars: “Identities in American History 1919-1970” and “The American West:  Borders and Frontiers.”  The reason for setting up these seminars is to allow teachers to teach classes based upon their expertise, while still maintaining a relevant class topic for “depth over breath” learning.

The history department is still thinking through all the changes, but it’s concrete that the curriculum will be changed to focus on topics in a deeper and more intense manner.  “This will allow things to work for more focus, more inquiry, and more choice, which ultimately acts as more of a college model education” Mr. Martin said.   “It’ll be exciting,” was what Ms. Heintz concluded with a smile.

Natalie Wade wrote this piece, which sits atop the front page:

New Curriculum Changes for next year explained.

Major curriculum changes are coming into effect next year. Some classes are getting cut (such as AP Statistics), but many others are being added. The goal is to offer more electives for students, and make the classes more in depth. Students will have the opportunity to take a class they are really interested in, and to study the subject more in depth.

Changes will be going in to effect in almost all of the departments. In the Math Department, for example, pre-calculus A and pre-calculus B (as separate classes) will not be offered any more. Also, an Introduction to Quantitative Analysis is going to start being offered as the class that students take once they have taken either Algebra II or Algebra II/Trig.

In the History Department, AP European history and a new course (The West and World) will be made available to freshmen. AP U.S. History will now be available to sophomores, as well as regular U.S. History and AP Euro. For Juniors, semester long classes will be The American West: Borders and Frontiers, Identities in American History 1917-1970 and AP U.S (one of these classes is required each semester). For senior year, AP Government will still be offered, along with Law and Policy in American Government (for which AP Government is a pre-requisite), Comparative Religion and Economics.

Not much is being changed in the English or Science Departments this year, but hopefully in the coming years certain classes will be inter-departmentalized, so a student may be taking a history class on the West, a science class about the West and an English class on Western literature.

The only changes being made to the English Department are the senior courses to be offered. Instead of AP English, the English department will be offering Narratives of Place, Does Race Matter?, Shakespearean Tragedy, and Duty, Leadership and Power (which will all be offered as semester long classes at the AP level). Subsequent years will bring more changes to the English department.

In Fine Arts, one of the required courses to be completed before graduation will be Historical Innovations in Art, Music or Theater. Also, one-semester electives will be offered every year (but not all are offered at the same time). Ceramics, Stagecraft, Stencils and Printmaking Techniques, Beginning Drama, Band, Choir, Beginning Art and Photography will be the semester-long offerings. The mandatory sophomore Survey of Art/Music History class will not be required of sophomores; it only has to be completed before graduation.

Mr. Martin has also decided to keep the foreign language department offerings the same for at least the next two years, although he hopes to integrate Mandarin as a language course in the future.