Category Archives: Social Studies

Philosophy (HS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Do we have free will? Can machines think? What is consciousness? What is happiness? Should we fear death? Does ethics depend on God’s existence? What should we do when we think a law is immoral? 

In this class, we will seek to understand and answer these questions and more, which have plagued ancient and contemporary philosophers alike. We will explore the origins and basic tenets of philosophy. Topics include theory of knowledge, philosophy of religion, Greek philosophy, Chinese philosophy, ethics, skepticism, rationalism, idealism, truth, and more. 

This class will include critical analysis of texts, structured deliberation, and creative projects. You will practice forming an argument with reasoning, in writing and discussion.

Sapiens (HS only) (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money, and human rights. 

Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier. 

In this social studies class, we will read the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. There will be about 45 pages of reading per week, some of which we will do together in class. This class will also include lessons on early civilizations, human growth and development, social systems, and global history. 

In the past, I’ve taught the graphic novel version of Sapiens. This is the original version which offers more depth of historical examples and critical language. We may also look at the graphic novel to supplement our understanding.

Diverse Voices & Yummy Things (MS/HS) (elizabeth ortega)

In this class, we’ll gather to consume and discuss media by and about diverse humans. We’ll hear from various voices on topics like identity, queerness, institutional racism and human rights, global issues and we’ll pull from assorted forms of media including podcasts and news sources.

Each class one of you will provide either a yummy treat or a yummy beverage for everyone to share and we will create a sign up!

We listen/watch and discuss.

Whiteness/straightness/cis-ness/patriarchal-ness etc. in media is the norm; this is an opportunity to approach important topics from different viewpoints and perspectives. 

No homework, just come ready to contribute to discussions each day or write a small reflection on the content and eat yummy things and THINK and PONDER and FEEL and PROCESS.

Geography (TSam)

This course will be exploring how the physical features of the earth, population settlement patterns, human activities, customs, and traditions contribute to defining a place, a culture, and people. Students will examen how the land, features, people, and cultures of the world affect the social, political, and economic character of nations and regions.

Required texts/materials: The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Global Current Events (TSam)

Information and how it is shared is so important. The need to be informed of news in your local community, county, city, state, and country as a whole is (in its basic terms) the main way people can stay connected. In this class, we will learn what makes the news, how information is distributed, and who makes the tough decision on what is covered on the local news, printed newspapers, and national and international websites.

We will also take the opportunity to learn about stories from new places and stories that the mainstream media thinks is not important enough to cover. Also, we will find time to uncover news from lesser-known places and understand the things they encounter on a daily basis.

This course will involve reading and answering questions about the content of each story. Students will have the opportunity to locate and present articles that interest them and relate the information to the class. There will be time to discuss things we discover and find interesting.

 

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States – American History (HS Only) (TSam)

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY)

  • American History

The first intersectional history of the Black and Native American struggle for freedom in our country that also reframes our understanding of who was Indigenous in early America.

Beginning with pre-Revolutionary America and moving into the movement for Black lives and contemporary Indigenous activism, Afro-Indigenous historian Kyle T. Mays argues that the foundations of the US are rooted in anti-blackness and settler colonialism and that these parallel oppressions continue into the present. He explores how Black and Indigenous peoples have always resisted and struggled for freedom, sometimes together, and sometimes apart. Whether to end African enslavement and Indigenous removal or eradicate capitalism and colonialism, Mays shows how the fervor of Black and Indigenous peoples’ calls for justice have consistently sought to uproot white supremacy.

Mays uses a wide array of historical activists and pop culture icons, “sacred” texts, and foundational texts like the Declaration of Independence and Democracy in America. He covers the civil rights movement and freedom struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and explores current debates around the use of Native American imagery and the cultural appropriation of Black culture. Mays compels us to rethink both our history as well as contemporary debates and to imagine the powerful possibilities of Afro-Indigenous solidarity.

Some class activities to expect:

Note Taking

Vocabulary

Short Answer quizzes

Short Writing Assignments

Required texts/materials: The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Cinema (HS Only) (Year long) (TSam)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

The film industry has been a constant element that was created to express the ideas of others. Through film, we can see deep ideas from people whose expressions can capture moments from the past looking into the future. While it’s hard to see every film that has ever been made, we can center ourselves around so many elements of several movies and experience a connection that surpasses both time and space. In the class, we will participate in watching films from a large number of different styles and use those moments to expand our knowledge of these amazing selections of work. There will be in-class discussions along with essay writing (group project) to help us convey our thoughts and stretch our thinking.

Mature Themes: Words and images can be inappropriate for some students.

International Economics (MS & HS) (TSam)

This class aims to provide students with functional knowledge of economics, so they may become informed consumers, producers, and citizens in today’s world. Economics is the study of how individuals, businesses, and governments make decisions about the use of scarce resources in a world of unlimited wants and needs. This is done at both the microeconomic level and the macroeconomic level, both of which will be examined in detail. At the microeconomic level, students will investigate the smaller units of the economy and individual firms and markets. In macroeconomics, students will study the global economy and economics of nations and governments as they attempt to foster growth and stability. The course is useful in helping students acquire many life skills, including personal financial literacy, and in establishing a foundation for a more advanced study of economics.

 

Understanding World Religion – Debunking Western Ideas (HS Only) (TSam)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

World Religions is a Social Studies course that will examine religion through a historical, social, political, and economic lens. Students will understand the connections between religion and society, and the many ways these two ideas are intertwined. By looking at both the origins of religion and our modern world, students will have a fuller understanding of the beliefs, culture, and conflicts surrounding the religions of the world.

Note: This class is not a class to bash or talk down about other religious groups, but rather a class to dialogue and deepen our understanding of what these groups were intended to be and do for others around the world.

Some class activities to expect:

Note Taking

Vocabulary

Short Answer quizzes

Short Writing Assignments

Mini Project

 

Required texts/materials: The instructor will procure the texts/materials.